Strozzapreti or Rotini?

Allison Arevalo announces each Pasta Friday menu from a barstool. The children eat first so they can go off to play while their parents relax and enjoy the meal. (Photo by Denise Woodward)

Don’t miss the chance to enjoy pasta with Allison Arevalo, former owner of Oakland’s Homeroom, and the creator of Pasta Friday, a meal she put on 52 times for a large group of friends and family. Allison’s new book, The Pasta Friday Cookbook, offers pasta and salad recipes for each week of the year along with tips on how to start your own Pasta Friday tradition. Here are three opportunities to meet Allison in the East Bay:

Author Dinner with Allison Arevalo at Benchmark Oakland
Thursday September 26, seatings at 5:30 and 8pm
499 9th St, Oakland

Taste some recipes from the book and drink Italian wines selected for the event. Cost: $100 per person all-inclusive: Three course meal, a signed copy of Allison’s book, free-flowing house wine, tax, and gratuity. Info and tickets: here

Author Dinner at Flora
Friday September 27, 5:30–10 pm
1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland

Flora offers a three-course Pasta Friday option in addition to the regular menu. Come meet author Allison Arevalo along with Gianluigi Peduzzi from Rustichella d’Abruzzo. Reservations are encouraged, but limited seating will be available for walk-ins at the bar.  Cost: $40 per person (before gratuity). Info: here

Book Signing, Tastings, and Conversations:
Allison Arevalo, author of The Pasta Friday Cookbook
Saturday September 28, 2–4pm
Market Hall Foods Rockridge
5655 College Ave, Oakland

Enjoy a lively book signing with Allison and the culinary team at Market Hall Foods. Sample Allison’s Crispy Cauliflower with Kale and Rotini and learn about sauces and when and why to use fresh versus dried pasta. No charge except for purchases. Info: 510.250.6005 or here

Read our story about how Allison created a Pasta Friday tradition for her friends and family: here


Kristina’s Bookshelf

Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with our readers. 

The Pasta Friday Cookbook: Let’s Eat Together
By Allison Arevalo
(Andres McMeel Publishing, 2019)

For 52 Fridays, former Rockridge resident, Homeroom mac ‘n cheese restaurant founder, and food writer Allison Arevalo hosted a group of friends at her house and fed them a meal of pasta and salad. Not just any pasta. A different dish every time. Cannelloni with Swiss Chard, Ricotta, and Bechamel. Spaghettoni with Red Pesto, Peas, and Burrata. Filei (short, hollow tube pasta) with Wild Mushroom, Lemon, and Garlic. Guests, many of whom arrived with children in tow, were asked to bring high spirits and a bottle of wine, and to remove their shoes.

Arevalo photographed the finished dishes and the evenings’ festivities and combined them with the recipes to create an engaging new cookbook, which includes recipes for 52 pasta dishes, 16 salads, suggested wine pairings, and loads of tips for building community and hosting your own pasta-with-friends gatherings. Recipes are for 6 to 8 servings, but Arevalo includes instructions for scaling for larger groups. Most are straightforward and easy to prepare, not involving more than 4 or 5 steps. Organized by seasons, the dishes each use a different pasta shape, most of which can be found at shops around town. Manicaretti Imports, which brings in Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta from Italy, is a good choice for some of the lesser-known shapes, and Arevalo also suggests more widely available substitutes.

With all the bright-red, dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes and thick floppy-leafed bundles of aromatic green basil in the markets right now, you might want to prepare the simple but delicious Rigatoni with Bacon and Tomatoes. But don’t miss the Rigatoncini with Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes and Pesto; Gemelli with Blistered Tomatoes and Balsamic Butter; Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Sirloin, and Spinach with Chiocciole (small, tubular pasta); or any of the dozens of flavorful, seasonal dishes. And then invite your family, friends, and neighbors for dinner!


Crispy Cauliflower with Kale and Rotini

Excerpted with permission from The Pasta Friday Cookbook: Let’s Eat Together by Allison Arevalo, Andrews McMeel Publishing

Have you guys met Alejandro? We’ve been married a long time, and I love him very much, but he’s a slightly picky eater. I once asked him to pick up cauliflower at the store, and he came home with an artichoke. I won’t tell you what happened when I asked for Romanesco.

Cauliflower is not Alejandro’s favorite, but even he likes it pan roasted and crispy, perhaps because it absorbs the deliciousness from everything else that’s in the pan, or perhaps because he doesn’t realize he’s eating cauliflower.

Photo by Sara Remington

Wine Pairings:
Red: Spanish Rioja
White: Spanish Cava

Serves 4 to 6

Kosher salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large head cauliflower, any color, cored and finely chopped
1 pound rotini, penne, gemelli, or campanelle
¾ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
2 large bunches (about 1 pound) Tuscan kale, stems trimmed, ribs and leaves finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup good-quality chicken stock, preferably homemade
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano

Fill a 6-quart pot with water. Bring it to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt. Heat ¼ cup of the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir. Cook without stirring for 5 minutes. Stir, then cook the cauliflower for 5 minutes more, until golden brown but not burnt. Transfer the cauliflower to a bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until slightly firmer than al dente, 1 minute less than it says on the package. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, pour the remaining olive oil into the pot you cooked the cauliflower in and decrease the heat to medium-low. Add the walnuts, garlic, zest, and chili flakes, and cook for 1 minute. Add the kale, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, and stir to combine. Add the stock and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the kale is soft and wilted. Return the cauliflower to the pot and add the lemon juice. Add the pasta and butter, and toss to combine, adding the cooking water if it looks dry. Top with the grated pecorino Romano and fried capers.