When Edgartown visitors stop by the new Edgartown Village Market on the grounds of the Dr. Daniel Fisher House this summer, they’ll have the chance to purchase fresh, handmade pasta in all colors and sizes. From medallion-shaped corzetti stamped with octopus designs to ribbony pappardelle, each noodle is hand-cut and formed by recipe developer and chef Katie Leaird.

“It’s very much a passion project,” Katie said of her new business.

Offering a variety of shapes week to week, KL Pasta is exactly the kind of low volume, slow business model made possible by the new farmers’ and artisans’ market. Katie tests each recipe in her home kitchen before making larger batches in a commercial kitchen. She mixes, shapes, cuts and partially dries (for better storage) each batch of pasta herself – a process that can take several hours per batch.

“I almost want to have a video up at the stand to show people what goes into the process,” she said. “It’s a labor of love.”

Katie cut her teeth in the culinary world at Chilmark Chocolates – her first job in food service – before eventually heading to culinary school and then the fine dining scene of southern Italy. It was in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Puglia that she learned her first pasta shape, orecchiette, named for its resemblance to an ear. Her mentor Maria Ciccerella had her own distinctive way of shaping the pasta that Katie had never seen before.

“Maria, she had very big thumbs!” Katie remembers.

“The minutiae of how you make pasta is so individual,” she said. “It varies from person to person, town to town…it’s a very regional thing.”

Hoping to master the ins and outs of every pasta shape, Katie traveled to a village in Italy at Maria’s recommendation. The moment she drove in she was greeted by a crowd of curious nonnas (grandmothers) who ushered her into a kitchen.

“They must not get many visitors because they greeted me outside in their Sunday best,” Katie laughed. “And then they showed me how to make pasta.”

Eight-month-old Joy (in photo) and four-year-old Hazel (not pictured) are an integral part of Katie's support team. Jeanna Shepard

She took her pasta studies on as a research project of sorts before settling back in the U.S. to work for America’s Test Kitchen and a variety of food publications. She moved to the Vineyard with her daughter Hazel four years ago, where she continued to develop recipes and make pasta in her spare time. It wasn’t until this year, after the birth of her second child, Joy, that she decided to turn her love for pasta into a small business. To find a business model that worked best with her lifestyle, Katie drew from both her experience as a home cook and as a professional chef in commercial kitchens.

“It’s a medium-sized operation,” she said. “It’s more involved than what you’d make at home, but it’s not approaching commercial levels.”

Katie’s own pasta style uses a combination of Italian and American techniques. Unlike pasta from Northern Italy and pasta sold in the U.S., pasta from Southern Italy is rarely made with eggs; this type of pasta has a more delicate flavor and texture. Fresh pasta is also thicker and chewier than the dried pasta sold in boxes because it doesn’t have to stand up to shipping and storage.

Although Katie makes her pasta fresh, she learned to partially dry each noodle on large screens so they don’t get crushed on the trip to the market.

“The pasta still only takes two to four minutes to cook like any other fresh pasta,” she said.

The shape of each pasta varies by what method Katie uses. Pasta shapes such as orecchiette and ravioli are shaped by hand, but extruded pastas –the tube-shaped noodles such as ziti and penne – take extra equipment.

In planning for the market, Katie said she’ll start with some shapes and see what customers prefer. She’ll have her beloved orecchiette for sure, as well as her favorite extruded pasta, bucatini. (She loves the pool-noodle shape so much that she named her dog Bucatini.) From there, the shapes get a little more creative. The corzetti, a coin-shaped pasta, will be stamped with octopuses for an extra touch of whimsy, and she’ll also offer capunti, a delicate, peapod-shaped noodle.

Because Katie oversees every aspect of pasta production, she has the opportunity to add even more creative touches throughout. Her “garden party” pasta is dyed with spinach, red bell pepper and beets to create green, orange and pink noodles.

“It imparts a really beautiful color, but also adds nutrients,” she said of the all-natural dye.

A 12-ounce box of plain, uncolored pasta will be priced at $14 at the market, and the colored variety will be priced at $16. Each box serves roughly two to three people.

“It’s definitely more expensive than what you can get from the grocery store, but it’s still a whole lot cheaper than going to a restaurant,” Katie pointed out.

From mixing the dough to drying and packaging each noodle, Katie’s only paying herself pennies for the hours of work she puts into the product. The price she has set for the pasta is one she hopes people recognize as befitting a high-quality, small-batch product.

“I hope it’s something people try on a special occasion and taste the difference,” she said.

“It’s time consuming, but it makes me happy,” she added. “That’s why I do it.”


For more information on KL Pasta, visit katieleaird.com and follow Katie @katieleairdfood on Instagram.

Brooke Kushwaha is associate editor at Martha’s Vineyard magazine. 


Pasta Shapes and Colors

from @katieleairdfood Instagram.


Bell Pepper and Spinach Cavatelli


Agnolini and "Garden Party" Pappardelle


Garganelli and Corzetti