The Pasta Project is the latest addition to the rapidly growing Italian Fast Food scene in Manchester. Started in 2016 in Harpurhey, the Pasta Project intends to change people’s perspective on what ‘fast food’ can be. The team invited us to a bloggers event last month to sample a selection of their dishes and to have a go at cooking some ourselves.
The dishes served are a vibrant and wholesome mix that caters to all tastes. At first glance what grabs you is the simplicity of the menu; no overflowing dining options replete with unnecessary ingredients and additives here. Take, for instance, the San Marzano, their key dish: spaghetti served with San Marzano plum tomatoes & basil. What may sound a little unadventurous really works, which is a testament to the quality of the ingredients and the level of cooking. It’s a dish I could eat every day without getting bored.
Whilst The Pasta Project is focused on fast takeaway service, the company has brought the highest quality ingredients to the table, often sourcing them all the way from Italy. Creating the meals with such high-quality produce means each mouthful bursts with flavour. Every order is finished in front of the customer, which means adding extras to your dish (whether that’s a touch of garlic, chilli, or a dash more spice) is no problem.
The pasta used by the team isn’t bought in bulk and hasn’t come straight from a factory floor. Instead, it’s freshly made by the staff on the premises at the start of each day. As The Pasta Project use egg pasta, the dishes they serve are not only filling but also high in protein. So while the portion sizes may initially appear a little smaller than you’d expect, they’re surprisingly satisfying.
For those dining at lunchtime, our recommendation would be the Genova; Fusilli pasta with basil pesto dressed with pine nuts and olive oil, the pine nuts adding a pleasing crunch the dish. Compared to the shop bought sandwich deal, or overpriced pre-packaged salad, there really is no contest. Paired with a drink you are looking at around £6 all-in. An absolute steal.
If you’re not in the mood for pasta, the Pasta Project have expanded their offering via a newly installed wood oven, which cooks perfect pizza every time. Full pizzas start at a frankly unbelievable £4.50, with a variety of toppings available. Our recommendation would be the Pizza Tricolor: a true veggie classic of basil pesto, cherry tomatoes, and baby spinach. It’s got to be one of the best value pizzas in Manchester.
3 Things we learnt at the Pasta Project
Cooking Fresh pasta is quicker than using shop bought ingredients
Once we got behind the stoves and started cooking, it came obvious that the pros were far better at it than we were ☺. However, with the help of the chefs (who were all excellent), it wasn’t long before our dishes were ready. So fast, in fact, that I haven’t used any pre-prepared sauces since the event.
When cooking pasta dishes, less is more
When putting together dishes on the spot the temptation can be to throw as many ingredients together as possible and hope that it comes together. However, the cooks at the Pasta Project were at pains to stress that it’s best to go for three main ingredients rather than complicating dishes with too many components. Allowing each ingredient space should allow the flavours to come out.
Pasta needs to be cooked al dente
Gone are the days where people would boil pasta to within an inch of its life – at least we hope so. For the real taste of Italian pasta, you need to cook it al dente.
As we were using fresh pasta, the chefs were able to instruct us on the exact cooking time for the perfect al dente pasta – any longer and the pasta becomes too soft and loses much of its bite (in fact al dente is Italian for ‘to the teeth’). Once cooked, adding the pasta to the sauce allows the pasta to take in some of the flavours of the sauce.
How to get to the Pasta Project
The Pasta Project is currently situated in Harpurhey, about two miles out from Manchester city centre. The location has allowed them to refine and their model before hopefully expanding into new sites in 2017.
We would like to thank everyone at the Pasta Project for putting on such a great night. We would surely be back to try more delectable veggie pasta dishes.
A selection of the dishes we cooked on the night