Although we weren’t able to live out our Mediterranean study-abroad dreams in Salerno, Italy, we brought the food to us with an Italian feast. This is our attempt to make up for it in the middle of land-locked St. Louis, Missouri.

Fresh Bread

We started this journey by making dough for Italian bread. We used this recipe as a guide. The bread used a few staple ingredients: yeast, water, sugar, salt, oil, and flour. The final product was a perfectly browned, crispy crust with a fluffy center- just what we had hoped for!

#spoontip: Use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast to escape the extra steps. Simply, combine all of the ingredients in one bowl and let it rest.

Jordan Monson

While the bread was delicious, it was not the centerpiece of the meal, however. We knew that our days in Italy would be filled with pasta, the symbol of Italian food culture, so our “Italian Feast” had to spotlight it! 

Homemade Pasta

Our homemade pasta dough was made with a few simple ingredients: flour, olive oil, eggs, and salt. We kneaded the dough for a few minutes until it was smooth, then let it sit so the dough could become soft and easy to work with. We then used our pasta maker to thinly roll the dough into long sheets making it ready to shape. 

Madison Campbell

When deciding on what shape to make the pasta, we made an important discovery: certain pasta shapes are suited for different sauces and toppings. Here are a few of the pairings we found:

- Long, thin noodles (Spaghetti, Angel Hair, Capellini) pair well with light sauces (tomato and garlic sauce or a simple olive oil) and should be topped with small additions such as a sprinkle of Parmesan or chopped fresh herbs.

- Long, wide noodles (Fettuccine, Linguine, Pappardelle) pair with rich and creamy sauces. The wider the noodles, the more meaty/chunky sauce should be used. 

- Short Tube Pasta (Penne, Rigatoni, Ziti, and Cavatappi) work well in a variety of dishes, including soup, salad, casseroles, and pasta dishes with essentially of sauces. 

- Small Tube Pasta (Macaroni) is perfect for creamy cheese sauces in baked pasta dishes or stovetop Mac and Cheese. 

- Short Irregular Shapes (Farfalle (bow-ties), Conchiglie (shells), Fusilli (spirals), Orecchiette (little ears), Rotelle (wheels), Rotini, and Cavatelli) have unique structural shapes, making them fit to hold up thicker sauces with meat, vegetables, and other larger ingredients. 

Jordan Monson

Our decision to use bow-tie pasta was solely because we thought they would be the most fun to make and eat. Although the pairing wasn’t based on the guide, sometimes college students just have to use what they have, and we happened to have a delicious bottle of pesto in our pantry.

We got our Pesto Rosso sauce from Aldi, it's a creamy tomato pesto that was very delicious! It provided flavor while letting the farfalle be the star of our plates. Our pasta was then paired with the bread and a fresh balsamic salad and we were ready to experience Italian food like we were in Salerno.

Madison Campbell

We were sad about our trip to Italy being canceled but we loved reviving a part of the trip by bringing Italy to us at home. While it's not the same, we had fun making it and are crossing our fingers we can go next year!