A passionate ode to pasta: two experts on the beautiful simplicity of the nation’s favorite dish

This story first appeared on capsulenz.com and is republished with permission.

Capsule’s Kelly Bertrand gets a little too excited about pasta. Standard stuff, really.

Let’s talk pasta.

Hard not to without a big smile, isn’t it? The simplicity, the rusticity, the familiarity of a good pasta dish has brought people together for thousands of years.

And sure, it fed you through those tough college years when you thought tossing penne pasta with tomato sauce and calling it a day was a vibe. (These days, I’ve taken to stirring barbecue sauce. Candle, I know.)

It’s always been there for you as a comforting hug, even when food trends rush through low-carb, low-fat, and pleasure cycles. For some reason we always go back to the beginning – and that’s great news for Christchurch producers, Vera Pasta (otherwise known as Phil Bennett and Linda Murphy).

To be honest, chatting with two pasta experts – imagine being a pasta expert – is actually quite exciting. Can they advise me on the best sauce combinations? (Yes – keep reading). Will they finally make me understand which pasta shapes go with which sauce? (Also yes).

“The bigger and wider the cup, the thicker the sauce,” Phil says, clinging to what might be a little too much enthusiasm on my part for the different pastas, but hey, that’s the right crowd. .

“The best thing about pasta right now – especially in New Zealand – is that we’ve learned that pasta is so much more than fettuccine carbonara and mac and cheese,” Phil continues.

“The only real limit is your imagination. There are traditional rules around this in Italy, but in my opinion everything is subject to interpretation.”

Phil and Linda (no, they’re not Italian) decided to start a pasta business over 20 years ago. They had just started a family and wanted the flexibility and security that their own business would give them, and they shared a love of pasta.

Building on Phil’s background as a baker – he’s a true carb champion – they started growing their business with just one employee (who is still with them today).

“It’s massively a family business,” agrees Linda. “Our people are amazing. Simply amazing.”

Before Covid, their business model was centered around supplying restaurants with fresh pasta. Then the pandemic hit, their clients closed, and Phil and Linda realized they had to branch out – fast.

“We were at home twiddling our thumbs, like everyone else,” Phil says. “So we started thinking, and then we called HelloFresh.”

It’s a bold move to call the biggest home food delivery service and showcase your products, but Phil and Linda figured it was now or never.

“We had started supplying pesto with HelloFresh, but we hadn’t made fresh pasta because we didn’t have the capacity to pack it in the small packs you would need – the hop pack sizes are larger big, you see,” says Linda. .

“So we had six weeks off to think about what we wanted to do and invested in the machines we needed to do the packaging.”

The new diversification of the business means life is a little more complicated at the moment, but Phil and Linda love it – and there’s a bright side to having their fresh pasta flying around the motu.

“Partnering with HelloFresh has meant that so many people may have tried pasta they’ve never had before,” Linda says with a smile.

“A lot of people aren’t used to cooking fresh pasta – and then there’s a great recipe to go with it? Mind-boggling. We love it, and we’ve realized how important it is to us.”

So what is their most popular product? Yes, you guessed it – fettuccine. But consumers are really digging into their stuffed pastas right now — spinach and ricotta and pumpkin and ricotta ravioli are flying off the shelves.

And, true pasta lovers, how do they get their own pasta? “Simply,” Phil replies.

“Lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan. Or sauté mushrooms, a little cream, pesto. And of course, in a HelloFresh recipe!”

The collaboration with Pasta Vera has given HelloFresh the opportunity to provide Kiwis with authentic Italian recipes that come to life with the products they supply. HelloFresh offers eight delicious Pasta Vera products in their meal kits, from your classic beef lasagna combo to plant-based options like basil pesto. *chef’s kiss*.

Creamy fresh fettuccine with bacon and tomatoes.


Creamy fresh fettuccine with bacon and tomatoes.

Creamy fresh bacon and tomato fettuccine with tomato salad

For 2


  • Olive oil
  • 100g diced bacon
  • 30g garlic paste
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 400g tomato sugo/tomato passata
  • 125 ml long-lasting cream
  • 325g fettuccine Pasta Vera
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cucumber
  • 30g baby spinach
  • 25 ml balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil (mix: 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt, pepper and brown sugar)
  • 30g parmesan
  • 13g garlic and herb seasoning


1. Boil the kettle. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over high heat, then cook the bacon, breaking it up with a spoon, until browned (three minutes)

2. Add the garlic paste, a pinch of chili flakes (if using) and cook until fragrant, (one minute people) and cook until thickened (two to three minutes) .

3. Pour boiling water into a saucepan over high heat. Season generously with salt Bring to a boil, add the fettuccine and cook until ‘al dente’ (three minutes)

4. Add the ‘al dente’ fettuccine to the pan with a splash of the pasta cooking water and mix.

5. Meanwhile, chop the tomato and cucumber. In a bowl, combine the tomato, cucumber, mixed leaves and dressing. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Divide pasta among plates, top with parmesan and torn herbs. Serve with a salad.

Want more dinner inspiration? Discover the capsules book club series with HelloFreshwhere they pair a delicious recipe with a book you can’t put down.