“My favourite pasta shapes are penne, fusilli, ziti, linguine and rigatoni, pasta is universally loved, versatile and unites all walks of life, there is a pasta for everyone.” – Chef Jason Daley of Mama’s Pasta & Grill
Chef Jason Daley is a young entrepreneur based in Portmore, St. Catherine, Jamaica. Motivated by his late mother, an avid home cook, who shared with him growing up that “you must cook with love or the food will spoil” he started Mama’s Pasta and Grill in her memory with his partners. Inspired by local Jamaican and Italian cuisine, they specialize in fusion pasta dishes. Guided by the original Italian techniques they firmly believe in using local ingredients and tailoring flavours to entice local cultural tastes. Jason shares with us a few pasta tips and a couple of vegetarian recipes that are popular with his customers.
Chef’s Jason’s Pasta Tips
- Always boil your dry pasta according to the package instructions as cooking times vary by product.
- Wait until the water is fully boiled before you drop in your pasta whether dried or freshly made.
- Reserve some starchy pasta water to aid your sauces if needed.
- Ensure your water is well salted to taste like the ocean as it enhances the flavour of your pasta.
- Always cook your pasta “al dente” which means firm to the bite.
- Stir your pasta when cooking so it doesn’t stick together.
- Never wash your pasta under water because it loses the starch to hold up your pasta when cooking.
Roasted Sweet Potato Pasta
Sweet potatoes are inexpensive, always available and a healthy tuber. Infused with turmeric and coconut, try this vegan pasta on a meat-free day.
- 450g penne pasta
- 1.5kg sweet potatoes, dice one third of the amount and slice the rest
- 60g vegetable oil
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 400g coconut milk
- 4 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
- 2 stalks scallion, thinly sliced
- ½ large red onion
- 1 sprig thyme
- 3-4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 400g vegetable stock
- Black pepper Cilantro for garnish
- Boil the sliced sweet potato in salted water, until soft. Remove and drain then blend with coconut milk.
- Season the remaining sweet potato with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Place on baking tray and roast in oven at 350•F for 1hr or until golden and crispy.
- Boil penne pasta in salted water for 7 minutes until firmly cooked or as instructed on package.
- In a sauté pot heat vegetable oil, heat turmeric powder for a minute then add escallion, red onion, thyme and garlic. Allow to sweat for 2 minutes.
- Add blended potatoes stirring briskly, then add vegetable stock and taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
- Reduce heat and add drained penne pasta stirring and coating the pasta with the sauce. If the sauce gets too thick, reduce with reserved pasta water.
- Remove from heat and serve hot!
- Garnish individually with cilantro leaves and roasted sweet potato croutons.
Herbed White Wine Cream Pasta
- 30g olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of thyme
- 4 basil leaves
- Flat leaf parsley
- 500ml/ 2cups white wine
- 400g heavy cream
- 125g Cheddar cheese, grated
- Black Pepper
- 450g fusilli pasta Shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, to garnish
- Bring water to boil, season with lots of salt and add your fusilli pasta, cook and drain off and set aside.
- Heat sauté pot to medium heat and add olive oil.
- Add chopped garlic and onion sauté until softened.
- Then add your chopped herbs (thyme, basil, flat leaf parsley)
- Pour in white wine and deglaze the pot then add the heavy cream and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Add grated Cheddar and stir to make the sauce come together.
- Mix in drained fusilli pasta to the sauce and toss until the dish comes together
- Divide amongst plates and add fresh parmesan cheese to garnish. Serve immediately.
Chef Jason Daley