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Have you ever eaten 120 year old pasta? I’m serious. I don’t mean pasta that’s been sitting around for 120 years of course. I’m referring to De Cecco Pasta, a brand that’s originated in the mountains of Central Italy and has been here in the USA for 120 years. The family owned company is the third largest pasta producer in the world. De Cecco is the pasta of choice for many of the most noted chefs internationally. The premium pasta has been recognized with several certifications for customer satisfaction, food safety and purity, and is certified kosher. Aside from more than 160 different pasta shapes, De Cecco also makes gnocchi (I LOVE gnocchi), extra virgin olive oil, and several ready-to-serve pasta sauces.
I had sandwiches on my mind today. One of my favorite sandwiches is the club sandwich. Turkey, cheese, bacon, tomato on two slices of fresh bread, there’s just something delicious about it. Tonight I decided I wanted to make a casserole inspired by a club sandwich. I’d recently received samples of De Cecco products. I decided that I wanted to use the De Cecco Whole Wheat Penne Rigati, recalling a delicious club sandwich I’d had quite a while ago on fresh wheat bread.
When I first cooked De Cecco pasta I found it to be a bit different. Not in a bad way, it just wasn’t ordinary. It’s not as white as some pastas, it’s more of a yellow color. The pasta isn’t mushy or soft at all, is intended to be cooked al dente and it is firm. It has a full flavor when you taste it nude. These things are probably due to the very particular manufacturing process that De Cecco uses.
De Cecco pasta is not made with any kind of wheat, but rather from the best durum wheat, the ones golden like the sun. All the De Cecco whole wheat pasta is made according to the original De Cecco system. Other manufacturers utilize, when processing whole wheat grains, a thermal treatment prior to the actual pasta making process in order to prevent the degradation of the fat substances. This does not happen in De Cecco, thanks to the special method of obtaining wheat grains meal and use of low temperature drying system. This way the nutritious values of the fiber can pair with the sweet aroma of wheat and together they generate a delicious final dish.
For De Cecco passion for quality is very tangible. That’s why experts inspect the harvest fields checking the quality of the wheat, which is bound for shipment to the mill (Molino) in Fara San Martino. De Cecco uses only pale yellow grains, which are called colored grains, the same ones that you re-discover in your plate after a laborious process. Upon arrival the wheat goes through lab checks according to cutting edge technology and equipment, ensuring the most accurate and rigorous testing possible. Both the grain shape and appearance is carefully examined: the surface must be even, without stains or imperfections, and the color must be pale yellow.
De Cecco Pasta has another secret that makes it special: the final gluten control, which is carried out by: “the owner’s bare hands”. This is a ritual that has been running in the family for generations and is one of the company’s most treasured assets, which allows for the selection of the best grains. After the selection, the different grains are blended. This is the only way to determine with precision the taste, color and fragrance of De Cecco pasta.
Now that you know a bit more about De Cecco Pasta, here’s the recipe I cooked up, inspired by a turkey club sandwich. It was delicious, and had a hearty taste. We were very pleased and will be having this again.
Turkey Club Casserole
- 13.25 oz box De Cecco Wheat Penne Pasta
- 8 oz turkey breast (I used 1 box of Perdue Short Cuts Roast Turkey, you could also use leftover turkey breast)
- 7 oz diced tomatoes (I used the basil, garlic and oregano seasoned type)
- 1/2 cup shredded bacon (I use Hormel premium shredded bacon, it comes in a big bag at BJ’s)
- 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 2x 10 3/4 oz cans Cheddar Cheese soup (undiluted)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
Boil the pasta according to the instructions on the box.
While waiting for the pasta to boil, preheat the oven to 350 F.
Once the pasta has cooked, strain and return to pot.
Mix in the undiluted soup and stir well.
Mix in the shredded cheese and stir well.
Mix in the bacon, onion and garlic powders and stir well.
Mix in the diced tomatoes and stir well.
Mix in the turkey and stir well.
Spray a large casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Place entire contents of the pot into the baking dish.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve.