Anyone who has walked past the swirling oranges, greens, and yellows that make the Bellingham Pasta Co. booth stand out at the Saturday Farmers Market, has no doubt been enticed by their vibrant display of this freshly prepared Italian staple. In addition to the wide variety of pasta, they sell their own hand-made specialty sauces to complete your meal.
With origins in Portland, owner Katie Hinton has spent a lifetime eating fresh pasta. When she moved to Washington in 1999, she made sure she got her noodle fix by “smuggling” a supply of her favorite brand in from Portland, “sometimes 20 lbs. at a time”.
Eventually that passion led Katie to start making pasta herself. It took her about 6 months to learn and perfect the process, and her business has been growing ever since.
The Bellingham Farmers Market is one of the six area farmers markets where you can find their goods—not to mention the countless restaurants, local co-ops, grocery stores and CSAs that also sell or include their pasta.
An Italian extruder, the pasta machine used at Bellingham Pasta Co. contributes to the exceptional quality of the noodles. This particular method leaves the surface of the pasta more porous—a texture that holds more of the sauce on the pasta.
Bellingham Pasta Co. produces countless styles of pasta including three variations of spaghetti (semolina, whole wheat and vegan), several types of linguine including an enticing lemon black pepper flavor, fettuccine (I would go for the Kalamata Olive), as well as penne, fusille, bucatini, and several other varieties.
The noodles stand out for their freshness, but Katie also uses seasonal local ingredients to make unique, mouthwatering flavors. Right now, they have garlic scapes and thyme on hand. This spring, they have been selling nettle pasta, and in the summer you might look for additions like beets and basil.
The ingredients used in the pastas are sourced locally and are organic whenever possible. Much of the flour used in the pastas comes from eastern Washington, and the eggs generally come from Everson. They also use as many of the vendors at local farmers markets as possible—for example, the hazelnuts in their pesto come from Holmquist Hazelnuts.
Though they are mostly know for their pasta, they also produce amazing sauces to complete the dish.
These sauces are popular however, so get to the market early if you want the best selection. By the time I arrived in mid-afternoon, the more popular sauces had already sold out.
Their Marinara is a combination of chunky tomatoes, veggies, red wine, and Pecorino Romano cheese. Garlic and Pecorino Romano make for a rich Alfredo. They still had some of their creamy Pink Vodka Sauce (pictured), a combination of the Marinara, Alfredo and vodka.
Katie offered me a mouthwatering recommendation for a summer meal. She calls it her Crack Crab with a Basil/Brie/Tomatoes Marinade.
Throw together basil (small bunch chopped), tomatoes (2 cubs chopped), garlic (2 gloves crushed), a wedge of Brie (cubed), about a cup of good olive oil, and salt and pepper to make the marinade. Marinate the crab on the kitchen counter for a couple hours. Cook the pasta (official instructions here http://bellinghampasta.com/cooking-with-fresh-pasta/), and immediately once strained, toss all together and platter the dish. She recommends serving the decadent dish with “a wonderful new (2016) Rose.”
On this particular Saturday employee Gwen Sowell, was tending the stand. When I asked what her favorite pasta was, she stated she loves bucatini, a pasta that resembles spaghetti, but is hollow in the middle— which makes it great for holding onto the sauce.
The crew at Bellingham Pasta Co. also actively experiments to come up with new and different styles of pasta. New products to look forward to are buckwheat noodles, soba noodles, and other seasonal flavors.
Next time you’re at the Bellingham Farmers Market, stop by to say hi to Gwen and pick up the freshest pasta in Bellingham–and don’t forget the decadent sauce.