Inventor of Cascatelli Pasta Dan Pashman Just Told Us His Top Pantry Picks for Making Pasta Dinners

The Sporkful host hopes his new cookbook will have people rethinking what they put on top of their pasta.

<p>Dan Liberti/Tribune News Service/Getty Images</p>

Dan Liberti/Tribune News Service/Getty Images

Dan Pashman has opinions when it comes to food. The host of the podcast The Sporkful insists that the best PB&J is made by spreading jelly on each piece of bread before adding peanut butter. And he eats his cheeseburger upside down. These adjustments, Pashman insists, make the eating experience better, with the jelly and cheese, respectively, hitting your tongue first, accentuating their flavors and making the whole eating experience better.

So when Pashman declared some strong opinions about spaghetti in June 2018, his longtime listeners probably weren’t too surprised. “Spaghetti sucks,” he said while hosting a live event called The Bucatini Dialogues. “We can do better.” He went on to announce that he was setting out to create a new pasta shape. The three criteria he had for making the best pasta: sauceability (the sauce had to adhere to the pasta well), forkability (you had to be able to easily pick up the pasta with your fork—and keep it there) and toothsinkability (it had to be satisfying to eat). He documented the entire process in a five-episode series called Mission ImPASTAble and in 2021, his pasta—cascatelli—was born. It sold out within two hours and was named one of Time magazine’s best inventions of 2021.

<p>Getty Images</p> cascatelli pasta

Getty Images

cascatelli pasta

As he scanned pictures of people cooking and eating cascatelli, he noticed a common theme: most people had a very narrow view of how to sauce their pasta. Sure, it’s great with marinara sauce, but why stop there? And that’s how his cookbook—Anything’s Pastable—was born. One of the main goals of the book was to change people's perceptions of what they can and should put on pasta. And he collaborated with several chefs to come up with some seriously yummy recipes, including Pasta Pizza, Cavatelli with Roasted Artichokes and Preserved Lemon, Mac ‘N’ Dal and Scallion Oil Bucatini with Runny Eggs. We sat down with Pashman to chat about his podcast and everything pasta.

EatingWell: The tagline of your podcast is “It’s not for foodies, it’s for eaters.” What does that mean to you?

Dan Pashman: I'm not a chef. I'm just someone who loves to eat. I didn't feel like there was a place for me. So to me that's really the distinction. I'm turned off by part of the culture around food that's very much about chefs and restaurants and status and which places have you been to. I just don't care about any of those things. I'm just really passionate about food and eating.

Related: Fans Love Giada De Laurentiis' Simple but "Fabulous" Mushroom Pasta: "My Absolute Favorite"

EatingWell: You said on the podcast that you have no professional culinary training, so you’d need to collaborate with chefs to bring your ideas to life. How did you choose the recipes and who to collaborate with?

Pashman: A big part of the idea of this cookbook was to not restrict ourselves to Italian pasta dishes and Italian pasta “rules.” And I wanted to collaborate with people who had different specialties. So each one of them is kind of a specialist in something. Katie Laird lived and cooked professionally in Italy. Asha Loupy worked in pasta and in Italian food, but also worked for the South Asian spice company Diaspora Co. I knew that she already had a lot of experience of mashing up a range of cuisines with Italian food. James Park wrote a whole cookbook on chili crisp, and I knew very early on that chili crisp was going to be a big part of my cookbook. I saw a recipe for kimchi carbonara that Irene Yoo did a while back, so I immediately knew she was someone I wanted to work with. And Darnell Reed’s restaurant in Chicago was the first to ever serve cascatelli. And Darnell's specialties are Cajun, Southern and soul food. They each have a different expertise and I just sort of explained the concept for this book: let's not restrict ourselves, just think of what's good on pasta. It was a really exciting creative process because they're all so talented and they all brought different specialties. The book wouldn't be nearly as good without all of their contributions.

EatingWell: One of the recipes in the cookbook, Scallion Oil Bucatini with Runny Eggs, caught my eye. Can you share how that recipe came about?

Pashman: I developed that one with James Park. He and I share a love of runny egg yolks and scallions. He and I were talking about the idea of runny eggs, which is a very common thing in Asian noodle and rice dishes, but not as common with pasta. We had the idea of using scallions in all of its different forms being used in different ways to incorporate different textures. You're infusing the oil with scallions. You're having crispy fried scallions, you're having raw chopped scallions. It's different flavors, it's different textures, and you have the runny yolk that adds so much richness and creaminess. It looks beautiful, it tastes amazing and it's not like any Italian pasta dish you've ever had.

<p>Dan Liberti</p>

Dan Liberti

Get the Recipe: Scallion Oil Bucatini with Runny Eggs

EatingWell: When you were creating cascatelli, you said the three characteristics you were optimizing were forkability, sauceability and toothsinkability. But it seems like the last was maybe most important. What were you going for there?

Pashman: I wanted it to be thick and chewy. To me, biting into a great piece of pasta should kind of feel like biting into a steak. It should be incredibly satisfying. It should be like a combination of biting into the perfect steak while laying your head down on a cool pillow at the end of a long day.

EatingWell: What pantry ingredients do you always keep on hand for making pasta, other than the pasta?

Pashman: Good jarred sauce. I wrote an entire book of pasta sauces, and there is no recipe in this book for tomato sauce or marinara or anything like that. There are so many great jarred sauces out there today. Unless you just love doing it, I'm not quite sure why anybody would make tomato sauce from scratch. Citrus. There are always lemons and limes in my house. I'm always zesting lemons or limes or squeezing the juice into things. There's a lot of citrus in this book and to me like that is just always, always on hand. And chili crisp.

Related: 14 Pasta Dinners You Can Make with Pantry Ingredients

EatingWell: You only get to use sound to talk about food. Your listeners can’t taste or smell or even see what you’re talking about. Do you think that is an advantage or disadvantage?

Pashman: I think that audio is the best medium for food because audio is inherently interactive. When you listen to a person speak without images, you get an image in your head. It's more like reading. And the image that every listener gets in their head is unique to them. If I describe an incredibly delicious dish, every person's visualization of it will be slightly different and it will be informed by their own experience. It's the original user-generated content. So to me, it will resonate that much more deeply with them.

Up next: 27 Colorful Pasta Dinner Recipes That Are Perfect for Spring

Read the original article on Eating Well.