Pasta maker Lina Miller Nicholson is a growing innovator in the foodie world. Her colorful Instagram account, Salty Seattle, boasts nearly 100,000 followers, all eagerly waiting to see her newest creation. Nicolson’s claim to fame has been her artistic pasta that is both widely colorful and healthy. Her passion for pasta first took root when she was four years old and her German grandparents would teach her how to make egg noodles from scratch. She later had to learn how to fend for herself in the kitchen when she decided to be a vegetarian at young age.
As an adult, Nicholson learned to prepare traditional Italian pasta while living in Italy with her husband but it wasn't until she had her son that she discovered the extent of her skills and creativity. Many kids don’t like to eat their vegetables and Nicholson’s son was no different. She decided to blend spinach into the pasta’s dough and her son loved eating the colorful noodles. She started posting photos of her creations on her food blog and the world has been mesmerized ever since.
So those "paint & sip" classes are really popular, but what if we leveled up? Make edible canvases while wining away, then cook & eat the art both to sop up the booze AND, AND, so nobody has to take home their embarrassing results. Oh, & this is that one painting by that one guy, rendered in naturally-colored noodles of various shapes & sizes. I hope it would appeal to his particular, enviable sense of strange. I might be ready to take requests... #vangogh #starrynight
Probably one of the most surprising things about Nicholson’s impressive skills is that she was in fact never formally trained as a chef. For that matter, she’s didn't go to school for art, either. With an English major under her belt, she took her creativity with new heights and now hopes to show others that with a little bit of love and patience, it is possible to be a great cook without a degree in the culinary arts. When she's not making colorful pastas at home, Nicholson teaches a variety of cooking classes in her hometown of Seattle.
So what makes her pasta so special? For starters, her ingredients are unique in that she skips artificial dyes and only uses herbs, vegetables or superfoods to color her pastas. This technique not only makes a wide range of vibrant color shades, but also creates a healthy all natural pasta. This rainbow assortment is often derived from things not commonly associated with pasta ingredients such as activated charcoal, blueberries, acai, beets, and spirulina. Her five acre home located just outside of Seattle provides her with inspiration and ingredients. Nicholson generally cooks with seasonal items using the produce from her own garden and fresh eggs from her ducks and chickens.
Aside from her fresh and vibrant ingredients, what is perhaps even more show stopping is what she forms with the dough. Nicholson found her niche with this simple Italian kitchen staple by incorporating something even more Italian than pasta: art. Nicholson told 9 News that, "With all of the colors, I have a painter's palette at my disposal and I might as well weave those colors together and do something really cool and unique and unusual with them”.
As an art lover, she found that pasta was an under-explored medium and could push the envelope with it. She has since used all types of pasta shapes to create an array of designs from American flags to Mount Rainer. Once she even made a sheet of pasta covered in musical notes and asked people to guess which song the notes belonged to.
Having found a way to express her creative talents through pasta, Nicholson has pushed her canvas even further to make whimsical pasta clothes and even recreated Katy Perry’s music cover with noodles. She also gets creative with her tools and sometimes adds items like knitting needles to her more traditional pasta making arsenal. Nicholson has used her food to make statements about everything from politics to emojis.
Her pasta might be avant-garde, but she aims to make it easy for others to recreate. While she hasn't tackled large scale retail orders yet, Nicholson is creating a cookbook with Harper- Collins which will be available in 2018. Through the cookbook, she hopes to encourage others to have fun while making beautiful healthy food in the process.
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