Canadians embrace food – we value family traditions, global trends, and local ingredients. Like our food, families across Canada are evolving. Blended, single-parent and multi-ethnic families have become part of our modern mosaic which echoes our growing tastes and preferences. But what has stayed the same is our love of pasta.
Almost nine in ten households have pasta in their pantries or freezers. What’s more, it’s a good, simple food in an industry striving to meet the demands of today’s health-minded families. Along with being healthy, consumers have become more concerned with the origins of their food products, larger processors are typically viewed as not being local, due to the volume of ingredients they require to keep up with demand. But that’s not always the case.
My inspiration for this meal came from some special ravioli Brion & I had picked up at our favorite Italian Store. I wanted to showcase it in an herb garlic chicken meal but I was real interested to learn that the producer of this pasta was from right here in our province of Alberta. Here is just a bit of info I learned from the ‘Let’s Pasta’ website.
Situated in Lethbridge’s industrial area, Let’s Pasta has been producing the freshest and finest pastas for the last 24 years, using exclusively Southern Alberta Durum Semolina wheat. This wheat is grown on two local farms and processed at P&H Milling, mere minutes from the pasta facility. In fact, those wheat farmers have an actual dedicated bin at P&H Milling, so there is always a steady supply available for Let’s Pasta. All their pastas, which include tortellini, ravioli, and gnocchi, are also made using local cage-free eggs. This connection to their local agricultural community is at the root of all their operations, driven by the firm belief of growing with their farmers while supporting sustainable agriculture for future generations to enjoy.
Let’s Pasta uses only whole, real foods in their fillings, no preservatives, no additives, no flakes, or by-products. Just good, old fashioned ingredients like potatoes, butternut squash, pork, and spinach. Now obviously the lobster and crab they use isn’t coming from Alberta, but they are from the Canadian Atlantic, and the Pacific region. All their fillings are made by hand in their test kitchen, where they also try out new recipes all the time to add to their lineup.
The two farms that provide the Durum Semolina Wheat for Let’s Pasta, Saunders Farms (near Taber) and Neveridle Farms (near Lethbridge), grow for a program called Shepherd’s Grain, a collective that promotes no-till, direct-seed farming so they can renew and preserve the land for generations to come – theirs and yours. Each grower is certified by Food Alliance™ for sustainability and complies with their strict standards for land improvement. They even have a traceability program that reinforces their commitment to renew the relationship between consumers and the farmers who grow their food.
From the facility, Let’s Pasta’s products make their way into retailers throughout Alberta, and across Canada. Not only are they available at select major retailers like Safeway, Sobeys, Federated and Calgary Co-Ops in Alberta, but you can also find their products at specialty shops like The Italian Centre Shop in Edmonton and Calgary, The Italian Store (also in Calgary) and Italian Bakery’s Mercato in St Albert.
Having lived in Lethbridge years ago, I found this all quite interesting not to mention what great ravioli it is!
Garlic Chicken over Creamy Artichoke & Lemon Ravioli
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Halve and peel shallot, then thinly slice lengthwise. Halve tomatoes. Zest 1 TBSP zest from lemon, then halve. Grate mozzarella on large holes of a grater. Finely chop chives.
Put panko & a large drizzle of olive oil in a large pan. Place over medium-high heat. Toast, stirring, until deep golden, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Wipe out pan. Heat another large drizzle of oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel; season with salt and pepper.
Add chicken to the pan and cook until done, 5-8 minutes per side. Remove from pan & let rest on a plate. Set pan aside. Place shallot and 2 Tbsp garlic herb butter in another pan. Heat over medium-high heat. Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Pour in milk & add 1 chicken bouillon cube . Bring to a simmer.
Whisk Italian and mozzarella cheeses into pan with milk. Stir in juice from half of the lemon. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust heat to low. Meanwhile, add ravioli to pot of water, lower heat, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until al dente, 2-4 minutes. Reserve 1½ cups cooking water, then drain. Stir ravioli, tomatoes, peas, and ¾ cup cooking water into sauce in pan. Simmer until just thickened, 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add more cooking water as needed to loosen pasta sauce. Set aside. Place thyme sprigs, ½ cup water, and remaining chicken bouillon cube in pan used for chicken and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Pour in any juices released by chicken. Let reduce slightly, 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in remaining garlic herb butter & juice from lemon half (if you wish). Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs.
Arrange pasta mixture on a platter and sprinkle with panko, Parmesan, lemon zest, chives, & chili flakes to taste. Thinly slice chicken on a slight diagonal and arrange over pasta. Spoon pan sauce over chicken; sprinkle with remaining chives.
- Garlic Herb Butter:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- dash of black pepper
- 1 -1 1/2 Tbsp freshly chopped herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, chives, parsley or sage)