Allrecipes Cook to Follow: Linda Miller Nicholson
Meet @SaltySeattle, the vibrant pasta visionary transforming water and flour into beautiful works of art.
Linda Miller Nicholson makes culinary creations as colorful as her personality. She's the pasta maker behind the Instagram account @SaltySeattle, where she showcases vibrant pasta-centric works of art for her more than 275,000 followers. Her work is almost too pretty to eat. Almost.
Linda first learned to make pasta from her grandparents when she was 4. From then on, she made pasta about once a week. "It compelled me more than other things in the kitchen," she says. "Then I moved to Italy in my 20s and learned from grandmothers there."
Her pasta creations didn't get a color boost until 2012, when she tried to get her son—Bentley Danger, now 12—to eat his veggies.
"I could not get him to eat vegetables. Pasta is his favorite food, so I experimented, making beet- and spinach-colored pasta. Then I started experimenting with kale, chard, turmeric, and carrots," Linda says. "I could get him to eat 2 cups of chard in every serving of pasta. He got excited to eat all the colorful pasta. I thought: How far can I take this?"
Her rainbow ravioli and Technicolor tortellini were a hit on Instagram. She released her cookbook, Pasta, Pretty Please: A Vibrant Approach to Handmade Noodles, in 2018 and put her education degree to work teaching pasta classes in Seattle. When COVID-19 hit, she found she could reach a global audience by taking the classes virtual. People from all over the world—Italy, Singapore, and Dubai—now come to learn. (You can, too. Sign up at salty seattle—but be quick: Classes sell out!)
"I love seeing people's creations," Linda says. "It feels good that I'm sending this out into the world, and people are coming together over it."
Linda's own creations include pasta remakes of Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night, portraits of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pasta mural installation for model Gigi Hadid, and even a dress made from sheets of rainbow pasta.
"I've made lots of pasta clothing! It goes back to my childhood. I was creative, and people always came to me to make costumes. I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was young," she says. Her dream of dreams is to do a pasta runway show. "It would be so cool just from an artistic perspective to be able to send 10 to 15 looks down the runway."
As for her son's picky eating habits? "People always ask my son what his favorite pasta is and they expect him to say 'spaghetti and meatballs.' But he likes bucatini with golden milk ragu," she says.
Why "salty seattle"?
"It has nothing to do with pasta," Linda says. "I'm obsessed with salt, and I have a salty personality." She even collects saltwater from all over the world and boils it down to make her own salts.
Now see how to make your own rainbow pasta!
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This article originally appeared in the April/May 2021 issue of Allrecipes Magazine.