Previously expensive ingredients like meat and seafood were mixed with
pasta to cut down on costs, but now pasta paired with almost anything
can be a gourmet meal all on its own.
Pasta is a mixture of flour, water, salt and sometimes egg. It is
relatively simple to make with the main problem being that all of the
very few ingredients must be perfectly in proportion for it to work.
But pasta is not limited to savoury dishes. In fact it is quite common
to combine a little vanilla or even chocolate flavouring into the
mixture for a dessert pasta.
Often the words macaroni and noodles are
substituted for each other and, truthfully, there is a big difference
between them. Pasta is a wheat product that combines flour (usually
semolina flour because of the protein content) with water or eggs. When
combined with eggs you have noodles, but if you combine it with water
you have macaroni pasta.
Pasta should also be cooked so that it is not completely soggy or soft
but can actually provide a little resistance when bitten into. Fresh
pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta which is the kind that you can
buy in the shops. However, it cannot be kept for longer than a few days
and does need to be refrigerated.
Often people believe that adding a little oil to the water in
which the pasta is cooking will stop it sticking. This is, in fact, and
old wives tale as the oil cannot mingle with the water and therefore
cannot prevent sticking in anyway. To ensure your pasta does not stick
to the pot, make sure that there is enough space in the pot and that
you stir often.
Shapes and sizes
Pasta comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, almost too many to mention. But let's just go through a few of them.
Tube-shaped pastas can be divided into two groups. The first
group consists of penne, elicoidali and cavatappi and should be served
with arrabbiata, prosciutti and asparagus sauces. The second group,
which includes macaroni (or Maccheroni), rigatoni and gigantoni are
often served with ragu, veggies, pepperoni and cheese.
Long pasta, also known as "pasta lungi" are used with tomato
and herb based sauces as well as carbonara. Falling into this group is
angel's hair, spaghetti, linguine and fusilli lungi.
Ribbon shaped pasta like tagliatelle, fettuccine and tonarelli work best with Alfredo sauces.
Then you get pasta that already has a filling, like tortelloni, pansoti, cannelloni, ravioli and lasagne.
And then finally, you get pasta in special shapes, like gnocchi,
fusilli, strozzaproti, gemelli, casareccia and radiatori. These pasta
work best in creamy sauces that have some kind of red or white meat
added to them.
10 recipes to try with pasta:
Spaghetti alla puttanesca
Steak and beetroot pasta
Meatballs in tomato sauce pasta
Pasta with pancetta and pecorino
Pasta with baked camembert
Mediterranean mini paella pasta
Butternut and bacon pasta