I recently spotted a beautiful pasta dish on Instagram, posted by Kendalyn of That's So Raw. All her food photography is stunning, but this picture in particular caught my eye, because it featured a jar of Bonta Toscana garlic sauce. I reached out to Kendalyn, and she graciously shared the recipe with us.
Notice that she uses many local ingredients in this dish. That's so very Italian! I remember one time I was chatting with an Italian chef about the concepts of "slow food" and "eating local." They were foreign to him, simply because in Italy, that's just how it's always been done. You buy food that's been raised and grown locally, and you buy it when it's in season. It's that simple. Even the table wine and olive oil we use at our house over there comes from our village or a nearby town. The oil, in fact, comes from the trees in our yard!
Kendalyn shared the sources for her ingredients, but make sure to source ingredients from your own local farmers and stores. That will only make it taste so much better.
Awesome Arkansas Vegan and Gluten-Free Pasta
• 2 8 oz Boxes of Hodgson Mill brown rice angel hair pasta (or any gluten-free pasta)
• 1 32 oz jar Bonta Toscana sauce
• 1 3.5 oz jar of capers
• Leaves from 12 stems of basil (I get mine from Willow Springs Market Garden Farms at the Bernice Garden Farmers Market)
• Crushed black pepper and pink salt to taste (I get mine from Dandelion Herbs and Teas in downtown Little Rock)
Cook the pasta. Pour sauce and capers over noodles and stir together well. Place in bowls and cover each bowl with half the basil leaves. Enjoy!
Isn't that just luscious in its simplicity?
I love how vegans, those who are gluten-free, and people with other specific dietary needs can enjoy our garlic sauce. If you incorporate our sauce into a special recipe like this, I'd love to hear about it -- just email us.
And if you want more information on the benefits of veganism and great vegan recipe ideas, make sure to visit the That's So Raw site and check out their Facebook page. I'm sure Kendalyn will be glad to chat with you!
One of the most stressful parts of starting this little sauce business was choosing a label design.
Some people think nothing of their labels initially. Throw together a design, print some labels out at home, stick them on the container, and then hit the shelves or the market stalls. Get selling first, worry about the details later. There's definitely merit to this approach. Sometimes we get so bogged down in the details we lose sight of the big picture. We're so worried about presentation we don't actually get down to the nitty gritty of making money. That can be bad.
But I knew I wanted to nail my packaging early on. I'm a stickler for a professional-looking product, and I think product appearance can make or break a sale. Proper labels were going to have to be done eventually, so I wanted to get it out of the way. Plus, I'm lucky enough to have some great designers as friends.
I worked with a couple of them at first. I didn't much know what I wanted, so that made it harder. Plus, I pretty much rejected anything too trendy right off the bat (think artisanal, chalkboard lettering, badges, banners, anything hipster-ish). Also, it needed to appeal to both men and women (some of my initial ideas were too "feminine").
Then suddenly, my friend Matt Owen appeared with the perfect design, the one I never knew I wanted, but that nailed it.
The colors are definitely Tuscan, the landscape evocative, and the garlic front and center, but somehow still subtle. But it's not just me who likes it. I've gotten tons of compliments on the label design over the past few months, especially from men, which is important, because they are the majority of our customers.
But this post isn't about our labels. It's really about bragging on what a great designer Matt is. Last week AIGA, which is a top professional organization for designers, released the names of the winners for their "50 Books/50 Covers" contest. I'm excited to tell you that Matt is one of the winners, for his work on a re-imagined Fahrenheit 451 cover.
Kudos, Matt! We not surprised that we're not the only admirers of your work, and we're happy to see you getting the attention and accolades you deserve. We're happy to say "We knew you when!"
My older son has been home sick for a few days. He has a nasty virus. Pretty much the only thing he can do to get over it is rest and stay hydrated.
Of course, having Mom cuddle you and take good care of you doesn't hurt. I've been willingly waiting on him hand and foot. He hasn't wanted to eat much, but when he begged me to make him some pasta with garlic sauce yesterday, I was happy to oblige.
Now, garlic isn't great at curing viruses, but it does have plenty of other health benefits. Its active ingredient is allicin. Some of the benefits of garlic and allicin include:
Lasagna made with garlic sauce. Photo and good food courtesy of Kevin Shalin of The Mighty Rib.
Funny thing is, when you're busy making garlic sauce all the time, you rarely have an opportunity to actually cook with it. I hardly know what it looks like on a plate anymore, though I see jars of it every night in my dreams.
But we know our customers make all kinds of amazing dishes with our sauce. That lasagna up there is a perfect example. Kevin's created some pretty interesting recipes using our garlic sauce, and he's been kind enough to share the pictures with me. Gorgeous, mouthwatering, crave-inducing pictures...
If you also use our products in your cooking, please consider snapping a picture and sending it our way. We'd love to share your work with everyone. With your permission, we may even use it in our promotional stuff. If we ever share or use your pictures, we promise to always give you credit (and a link back, if you like). We promise to also give you a free jar of sauce. So then you can make more good food, and take more good pictures, and get more sauce, and make more good food, and take more good pictures, and help create an endless cycle of beautiful Italian food all over the world.
Interested? Post your pics on our Facebook page. Or send them to us at email@example.com. We can't wait to see what you've made!
Looks like the weather has finally decided to stay above freezing at night here in Arkansas, which means today was the perfect day to plant the Bonta Toscana garden. What did we plant? Lots and lots of sweet basil and Tuscan Blue rosemary. To say it smelled divine is an understatement.
If you're thinking pesto, you're on the same page as me. Besides pesto, though, I have an amazing marinade in the works. It features lots of basil, lots of rosemary, and lots of garlic, of course. It makes the perfect coating for an herb-crusted pork tenderloin, and it's just what you need if you want to grill a delicious Florentine-style steak.
Bonta Toscana's laziest employee also came to the farm to help today. She pretty much just rolled in the hay and ate rosemary. But she sure looked cute doing it.
If you're ever in the Little Rock area and want to check out the Bonta Toscana garden, let me know. We operate out of the St. Joseph Farm in North Little Rock. It's an old Catholic orphanage that's being turned into an incredible agricultural and education center. (It's also a fitting location, since the main building looks like an Italian villa.) I'd be happy to show you around, tell you a little bit about my gardening efforts, and share the plans for the farm as a whole. It's a really cool place.