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Entries in Pasta recipe (1)


Hoboken Farms and a Special Baked Pasta Recipe

A few weeks ago, I attended the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center in NYC. This was such an insane collection of food entrepreneurs (both old and new), that went into sensory overload just trying to absorb it all...not to mention all the samples.

While I was there, I visited the Hoboken Farms booth. I had heard of Hoboken Farms before, but had not tried their product. At the show I was able to do that and talk with the founder, Brad Finkel.

Brad was incredibily enthusiastic about his brand and product, as he should be. The Big Red Sauce he was sampling was fantastic. He sent me on my way with an entire jar of it, and chatted with me over the phone about his brand, product and recipes.

First, a note on the Big Red Sauce: this is the sauce that your grandma made. That is, if your grandma was my grandma who spent all Sunday afternoon in the kitchen over a steaming pot of tomatoes simmered to a perfect reduction of sweetness and tanginess, with a touch of olive-oiliness and peppery punch. 

This is a difficult sauce to bottle. How do you bottle time? Or effort? Or grandmas? No comment on the last, but Hoboken Farms has figured it out. Their sauce comes out of the jar just as if it was poured directly from that giant pot on the stove. Instant Sunday afternoon.

Hoboken Farms commitment to quality goes way back to 1992. A time before hipster foodies. In 1992, John and I were drowning each other with Super Soaker 100's to the musical stylings of Heavy D (R.I.P.) and Kris Kros. I had not yet learned to pluck my eyebrows. John had not learned how to match his Jams shorts with his Bart Simpson t-shirts. But we had learned about good red sauce, from both our mom and our grandmother.

So had Brad. He learned cooking at his grandmother's knee, and in 1992 started to make his own mozzarella and sell it at local farm markets. Brad admits that he didn't know what a farm market was at this time. But he found eager customers there, and in one half hour, 50 pounds of his fresh mozzarella and 50 fresh loaves of bread sold out. He kept going and kept selling out.

Now, he has expanded to 30 farm markets (see locations here), a sandwich shop in Summit, NJ, the Juice Bar at NJ Equinox locations, and a Big Red Marinara Sauce that is sold in Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Through the farm markets, he maintains of loyal base of customers that keep returning. "The babies are growing up, having babies and shopping with us," says Brad proudly. The community extends online where menu offerings, events and recipes are shared. 

Brad shared one such recipe with me, which I vowed to create and share on this blog. It's a Baked Pasta recipe that he makes for his son, who is gluten intolerant. Gluten-free pasta is used in place of regular pasta. You can see the original recipe here, but I've also recreated it below to the best of my ability.

Side note: I ate this BEFORE and AFTER one of my recent races. Before, I ate it piping hot, taking my time to savor each melted cheese flavor blending with the tangy Big Red Sauce. After, I ate the cold leftovers with my bare hands like a raccoon in the trash. Both servings were excellent.

Here's how you can do the same:

What you need:

1 jar Hoboken Farms Big Red Marinara Sauce

1 lb Gluten-free pasta (I used a ziti cut, but you can use whatever you like)

1/2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese

1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

sea salt

What To Do:

Boil a large pot of water over medium-high heat on your stove top. When the water is boiling, season with a healthy pinch of sea salt. 

Throw in your gluten-free pasta and cook just under the recommended cooking time. The pasta will later be baked with sauce and will continue to absorb moisture, so to avoid "pasta mush" (a real and terrifying phenomenon), under cook your pasta slightly.

Drain the pasta.

In a baking dish, sprinkle in half of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Pour some Big Red sauce over the cheese. Add the pasta to the dish, and the remaining Big Red sauce. Top with the rest of the cheeses, and a few sprinkles of red pepper. 

Bake at 450' till golden brown (about 7 minutes).

I made mine in small ramekin for portion control and/or cute antipasto servings!

Eat hot, cold, with utensils or without...