Pasta is an Italian word, so when it comes to pasta recipes, one automatically thinks of Italian cooking.
In a narrow sense, this might be true, but today pasta is more than just one nation’s favorite ingredient.
The word also means a dish containing the ingredient pasta. Therefore, our pasta recipes are for a whole meal not just for making the actual ingredient.
Pasta is divided into a dry category (pasta secca) and a fresh one (pasta fresca).
A basic dough contains mainly durum wheat flour (also called semolina) and water for the dry version and additional eggs for fresh pasta.
To make gluten-free pasta, other grains like rye, buckwheat, barley, or rice are used.
There are about 310 listed shapes of pasta and many more local varieties.
Some like penne, macaroni, spaghetti, lasagne, or tagliatelle are well known. Only a few people outside Italy will have heard of bucatini, rombi, or cavatelli.
To cook pasta, add it to boiling and salted water. Make sure there is enough water, so the pasta doesn’t stick together.
The dry variety takes longer to cook than the fresh one.
Once ready, drain thoroughly, but never rinse. Splashing fresh water on pasta will wash away the flavor-giving starch on the outside which also acts as ‘glue’ for the sauce.
Italians cook their pasta ‘al dente.’ It means ‘with a bite’ and not fully cooked through. This might feel a bit too hard for foreigners. Therefore outside Italy, pasta tends to be cooked a bit more than just al dente.
Pasta consumed in moderation is a valuable part of our daily diet. Besides the carbohydrates, it contains starch, proteins, small amounts of minerals and vitamins.
Although a part of every meal and menu in Italy, it is eaten only in small amounts.
Oversized pasta portions are an invention from abroad.
Same applies to the use of sauce. Your pasta course in Italy comes as a small portion with a very modest amount of sauce already mixed through.
Outside Italy, the same pasta recipe might be double the size with the sauce sitting on top.
There are pasta-like foods found in most major cuisines.
Russian pelmeni, Eastern European pierogi or varenyky, Southern German Spätzle, Chinese noodles, North African couscous, etc.
The explanation is easy. For a basic pasta recipe, you need just flour and water. Work both ingredients into a dough, dry it and you have a durable, basic food. Just boiling the dried pieces will help you to get through the lean times. In better times you might add an egg, more seasoning, form the dough into fancier shapes and serve with vegetables, meat, fish and a sauce.
Until the 19th-century, pasta was eaten dry with the fingers and without a sauce.
Today it is probably available in all countries around the globe.
Pasta recipes are so extremely popular because they are quick, delicious, and easy to prepare, even for the cooking novice.
Did you know that October 25th is World Pasta Day?