Photos and Words by Samantha Levy
SOWA Open Market is an indoor winter Farmers Market in the South End where last weekend I discovered Valicenti Organico, a small local business owned and operated by Chefs David Valicenti and Michelle Splaine. Together they produce fresh pasta, ravioli, sauces, breads, and much more using either ingredients they grow themselves or other locally grown ingredients. Valicenti Organico only makes their famous “Red Gravy” tomato basil sauce during the harvest season when the ingredients are at their peak quality. They collaborate with local farms and dairies to ensure freshness, which lends a sense of community to all of their products.
Valicenti and Splaine both have extensive experience cooking and baking in restaurant settings, and together they founded Valicenti Organico in 2008. The pair says they are living their shared dream, cooking in their newly renovated farm kitchen in Hollis, N.H., and traveling throughout New England to an impressive array of farmers’ markets.
The company’s fresh pressed pastas are made with either natural semolina flour, flavorings such as lemon and basil linguine, or specialty grains, such as farro or hemp. Tomato caper, porcini mushroom, and carrot and dill are among their diverse list of pasta varieties, and they even offer a gluten-free option.
While all of these variations on classic pasta looked delicious, what really caught my eye were the seasonal ravioli. The variety of fillings was unbelievable: roasted pumpkin and brie, brandied lobster, duck confit with ginger and shiitake, and pear, prosciutto and gorgonzola. (Are you hungry yet?)
Chefs Valicenti and Splaine suggest a couple of simple sauces that would pair well with some of their winter ravioli varieties, but I think any of these sauces would be tasty on any pasta, filled or not.
Sage Brown Butter Sauce
To go with the following raviolis: braised chestnut, roasted pumpkin and brie, roasted apple with camembert and almonds, caramelized butternut squash, brown butter and sage roasted sweet potato
- Slowly melt butter over low heat until butter turns light brown and takes on a nutty aroma.
- Add chopped sage and remove from heat. Finish with walnuts and parmigiano, if desired.
Lemon Butter & Parmigiano
To go with the following raviolis: artichoke boursin, herbed cherve with honey, broccoli and fontina, multigrain portobello with spinach and chevre, brandied lobster, roasted cauliflower with golden raisins and grana padano
- Simmer lemon juice and white wine with minced shallots and garlic. Reduce by 3/4.
- Remove from heat and whisk in butter and a drop or two of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces. Finish with parmesan and green onion.
On the fateful day at SoWa, I was initially drawn to Valicenti Organico by their colorful chalkboard menu that set my stomach growling, but now what attracts me most is the feeling that my pasta was prepared by a friend. The company’s booth at the farmers’ market was friendly and approachable, as is their website (www.gimmiespaghetti.com), and I feel that the founders care deeply about their products, their business, and their customers.
Valicenti Organico’s ravioli, pasta, and Red Gravy are available at several stores in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as well as various farmers’ markets. The flavor combinations of the pasta change according to the seasons, so keep that in mind when you go on a hunt for some mouth-watering ravioli. The SoWa Open Market is a fun and different way to spend a Sunday, and if Valicenti Organico is there, I suggest you start a pot of boiling water!