To some, a discount warehouse may not seem like the ideal place to accomplish any of your grocery shopping for the week.
But I've long been a fan of scouring the aisles at places like Tuesday Morning, T.J. Maxx and Marshall's for deals on gourmet goodies like Sarabeth jams and exotic coffees. It's a thrift store passion taken to a culinary end; nothing is more fun that hunting for hidden treasures, especially if those treasures are edible.
On my last trip to Marshall's, I threw some standard goodies into the cart -- a jar of vodka sauce that's good to keep around for short notice, some Walker's shortbread -- along with a few new treats I'd never tried before.
A colorful package of linguine by Pasta Partners caught my eye. The pasta was bright red, which I saw from the packaging was because it was "infused" with sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Intrigued, I picked up another package, this one containing linguine peppered with small green flecks. It was infused with roasted garlic and parsley. Thinking they'd be great go-to meals when I was in a hurry, I threw them into the basket as well.
Pasta Partners makes dozens of different kinds of pastas, not all of them flavored. But the flavored kind -- which also comes in lemon pepper linguine, roasted red bell pepper fettuccine, spinach fettuccine, jalapeno fettuccine and garlic angel hair -- usually sells for $5.50 a package.
Finding it at Marshall's for $2.99 was one of the reasons I chucked it into my cart so quickly. The other was that the pasta contained nothing but semolina, parsley, roasted garlic and water -- just as it should.
I ended up making the pasta that night, with only a few accompaniments: sweet peas, toasted pine nuts and a sauce with tarragon vinegar, white wine and butter (otherwise known as a very half-assed beurre blanc). It was fantastic.
The roasted garlic was perfectly assertive -- neither too pungent or underwhelming -- with a nice, clean finish from the parsley. The linguine also cooked up far faster than normal; beware of that if you grab a bag for yourself.
I was pleasantly surprised by the whole affair and am looking forward to both the bag of sun-dried tomato and basil pasta I still have in my cupboard as well as making Pasta Partners one of my goodie go-tos at the discount store.