(UPDATE: Unfortunately, Baia Pasta is no more. They closed shop but left such a mark on us that we wanted to keep these posts referring to them. )
It would seem that August is Paste e Fagioli month here at Rancho Gordo. I just can't get enough of it and I am obsessed with perfecting the dish. My family and friends love my Mexican food obsession but I can tell they're happy I'm back in Italy, so to speak. Part of the magic is the pasta. Either my tastes have become more particular or the pasta we have available here in the states if getting worse. In general, I prefer white durum wheat pasta and apparently our hard U.S. flour is perfect for this. I have never been too keen on whole wheat pasta (except for one dish I had in Firenze with fresh green bell peppers cooked to death in massive amounts of olive oil that still haunts my dreams) and the whole grain pasta I've had has been almost putrid. Then I met Baia Pasta. The spelt and other ancient grains they are using are as satisfying as the durum versions and in certain dishes, I even like them better. I've been focusing on two shapes, the Accordion and the Sardinians. Both hold a good amount of sauce and have a dreamy texture. Of course you want to cook them until just al dente but I have been making extra and keeping it in the refrigerator for salads mostly but for a quick meal, leftover beans, leftover pasta and some tomatoes make a great dish and this pasta still shines. Inferior pasta would be rubbery or fall apart. We are featuring a sampler with 2 pounds of Baia spelt pasta and 2 pounds of Rancho Gordo heirloom beans. You can order them from our website. We also have a durum wheat version. Want more? Our ebooklet The Pasta e Fagioli Manifesto is availble. You can download it for free, here.