Know your Pasta

Pasta is one ingredient that sums up the essence of Italian cooking! Interestingly, pasta is served between the appetizer- antipasto, and the main course- il secondo. It is not a full meal in itself. Sometimes it is also served in soups (only the small variety).

The history of Pasta

The age old war between the Chinese and the Italian over 'who made it' will go on and on! The Chinese claim that they were the first to discover the art of noodle making and this art was taken by Marco Polo to Italy in the 14th century. However the Italian claim that they pasta is their own invention and was made in southern Italy first as the climate there is suitable to the production of Durham wheat. The popularity of the pasta spread across Italy by the 14th century and it started being sold as an alternative to bread in the bakeries! Today, it is popular not only across Italy but also all over the world.

Types of pastas

Pastas are of two basic types- fresh pasta and dried pasta. Fresh pasta known as pasta fresca, can be made easily at home with plain flour and eggs. The dried pasta known as pastasciutta, is factory made using only the best Durham wheat. Its elasticity helps in shaping pastas of different shapes and sizes. The factory made pasta is made using only wheat and water but some varieties are enriched with eggs and some are flavored and colored using spinach, tomatoes and even squid ink!

Varieties of pasta

There are hundreds of varieties of pasta depending on their shape, size and thickness. Basically they are the long, the short, the flat and the filled ones. Let's begin with the longer variety: There are the thin and the ribbon pastas in the long variety. We are all familiar with the spaghetti, aren't we? Hold it, there is a thinner version as well known as spaghettini! Linguine is flatter with little tongues. Bucattini are thicker and hollow. Vermicelli is the thinnest and the ultra fine are known as the capelli d' angelo which means angel's hair.

Buccatini

Angel's hair

The ribbon pasta includes the fettucini, the trenette and the tagliatelle. Lasagna sheets are larger flat rectangles used for layering while cannelloni are rectangles used for rolling round a filling. The dried cannelloni is already rolled in tubes.

Lasagna

Cannelloni

The filled ones include the ravioli which is square in shape, the tortelli which is round in shape and the tortellini and anolini which are ring shaped.

Cannelloni

Ravioli

Tortelli

Tortellini

Depending on the beautiful shapes there are wonderfully named pastas ranging from the conchiglie to the spirelli, fusilli, penne, farfalle, rigatoni and so on.

Spirelli

How to cook pasta

All pasta must be cooked in a large pan filled with fast boiling salted water. Cooking time depends on the variety of pasta being used. It may vary from 2-3 minutes for to the fresh pasta to 7-8 minutes for ready made pasta.

So fresh or readymade, plain or colored, flat or shaped...choose the pasta you like and enjoy its great taste!

 
 
 
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