Garden-inspired pasta: Local, sustainable, flavorful

July 2013 Posted in Business
Pati Harris and Wayne Huisman make Esotico, an artisan pasta. They run the new company with their respective spouses George and Julie.

Pati Harris and Wayne Huisman make Esotico, an artisan pasta. They run the new company with their respective spouses George and Julie.

By Kristine Thomas

If it is a Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday, Julie and Wayne Huisman and Pati and George Harris are pretty certain their cars are enhanced with the most delectable aromas – like herbs and garlic, tomato and basil, spinach and feta, and curry.

The Harrises and Huismans are owners of Esotico, handcrafted artisan pasta. Esotico is Italian for “exotic.” Their flavors include Herbs and Garlic, Black Bean Chipotle, Asian Explosion, Curry, Cracked Pepper Corn, Lemon Pepper, Spinach Feta, Garlic Herb and Roasted Tomato and Basil.

They are currently selling their handmade pasta at farmers’ markets in Salem, Wilsonville, Oregon City, Keizer and at the Silverton Farmers Market, open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at Town Square Park.

The idea to start a pasta company began with Julie when she visited a farmers market in Denver. She saw a booth that made 40 different kinds of pasta and sold it to markets throughout the United States.

She and Wayne were having dinner with Pati and George when she mentioned the idea.

“Immediately, Pati told me she thought it was a great idea,” Julie said. “She is usually more reserved about things but was eager to do this.”

Together, the couples began experimenting with their own pasta recipes and inviting friends to dinner parties to provide feedback.

“Our goal is to make our pasta so flavorful that you don’t need a sauce,” Pati said on a Tuesday afternoon as she and Wayne made the pasta. “The flavor is really in the pasta.”

What they all enjoy about their new business venture is they are creating something healthy with local ingredients. They use herbs, tomatoes and spinach from their gardens and eggs from a friend’s chickens. They buy some ingredients from Bob’s Red Mill.


Handcrafted artisan pasta
Owners: Pati and George Harris and
Julie and Wayne Huisman
Sold at farmers markets in Salem, Keizer,
Wilsonville, Oregon City and Silverton

“Our goal is to use the freshest ingredients that we can and buy from people who are using organic and sustainable farming practices,” Patti said.

They also enjoy the learning curve – from creating new recipes to figuring out how to role the dough.

When Wayne was creating the recipe for the Lemon Pepper pasta, he used four tablespoons of cracked pepper.

“It looked like licorice and we had to throw it away and start again,” he said.

They are working on whole-wheat, gluten free, and vegan pasta, too.

When they began the business in mid-May, they used the kitchen at Fordyce Farms, taking about two hours to make six pounds of pasta – equaling about 13 bags.

Pati Harris hangs sheets of pasta to dry.

Pati Harris hangs sheets of pasta to dry.

As of late June, they were selling 170 bags a week. In July, they moved to the kitchen at the Harris’ nursery, Garden Thyme on Cascade Highway.

An accountant since she was 18, Julie is also a ceramic artist. She is having a show at Lunaria Gallery this month with artist Lori Webb.

“What I like about this is it is a fun venture and a reinventing of self,” she said. “Wayne and I have always loved to cook and this is an extension of our love of cooking. This is the most fun job I have ever had.”

Julie, 57, says she has been asked why she is starting a new business venture with Wayne, 68; Pati, 52; and George, 53 when most people their age planning retirement.

“The worst thing that could happen is that we fail,” she said. “I think trying something new adds variety and spice to life and gives us all something enjoyable to do.”

Wayne enjoys selling the pasta at the farmers markets. He calls it a great way to people watch.

“I also found in retirement that you need something to kick start you every day,” he said.

“It is really exciting and fun to take an idea and create a business. It has been gratifying seeing that we are selling more and more of our product at the markets and we can barely keep up with sales.”

Esotico Pasta is used in dishes at Creekside Grill in Silverton. Now that they have their own commercial kitchen, there are plans to expand where they sell the pasta – including other restaurants and specialty stores.

After a busy day working in her nursery – Garden Thyme – Pati enjoys that she can cook a healthy and nice meal using Esotico Pasta.

The best part of making pasta is hearing the feedback from friends and strangers.

“It’s gratifying making something that people like and enjoy eating,” Pati said.

Esotico Asian Noodle Salad

Wayne Huisman operates the pasta cutter.

Wayne Huisman operates the pasta cutter.

1 bag (8 oz.) Esotico Pasta – Asian Explosion

Available at Silverton Farmers Market


4 tbsp. rice vinegar

3 tbsp. sesame oil

4 tbsp.  soy sauce

2 cloves minced garlic

2 tbsp. grated ginger

1-2 tsp. hot chili sauce

Combine ingredients and set aside


3 green onions finely sliced

1 red bell pepper julienned

¾ cup shreaded carrots

¾ cup snow peas

1/3 cup toasted cashews

Cook pasta until al dente, rinse in cold water, drain. Mix ingredients, add sauce and mix thoroughly. Chill, serve.

Option: Mix extra sauce and marinate 2 chicken breasts. Grill chicken, dispose of marinade. Dice chicken and and top salad.

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