Home » Season & Festivals » A Tryst with Pasta

A Tryst with Pasta

Italy, the nation of artists, saints, sailors and great cooks and of course, the haven for pizzas and pastas. The best of Italian food combines fresh ingredients with simple cooking techniques. Meats, fish and vegetables are flavoured with herbs and olive oil, and often grilled or baked. Aromatic sauces can often be assembled in the time it takes pasta to boil. A great deal of Italian food comes from peasant heritage. The Italian diet, which is high in vegetables and carbohydrates and low in animal fats, is considered to be a healthy one enhanced as it is by extra-virgin olive oil, pasta and beans.

In Italy, pasta and gnocchi are traditionally served as first course after the antipasti and before the second course of fish or meat. Everyday dishes are often simple, served with nothing more than olive oil or butter, grated parmesan and basil. Outside of Italy there are no hard and fast rules, and nowadays people eat pasta and gnocchi whenever they like. I1 primo, as the pasta course is known, is eaten between the antipasto (appetizer) and i1 secondo (the main course). Sometimes small pasta shapes are served in soup as pasta in brood. 

Pasta comes in many shapes and forms. Pasta can look as mundane as long thin rods or it could be ingenuity personified looking like stuffed hats, snails, shells, wheels and even cock’s comb! Classically, there are two basic types of pasta, pastasciutta (dried) and pasta fresca (fresh).

Fresh pasta is commonly made with a mixture of eggs and all-purpose flour. Since, it contains eggs, it has a short shelf life and it is tender compared to the dried pasta. Fresh pasta does not expand in size after cooking. Delicate sauces are preferred with fresh pasta so that the fresh pasta is the dominant ingredient.

Dried pasta is also called factory-made pasta because it is generally mass produced using machines. Dried pasta is normally prepared by mixing golden semolina flour, wheat flour and water. Dried pastas are best served in hearty dishes like ragu sauces and casseroles. Dried pastas are better for storage, since they have a longer shelf life compared to the fresh pasta.

Dried or Fresh Pasta enter into the wonderful world of pasta shapes. The following long list of various shapes of pastas is a living testimony of its popularity. By all means it is not a complete list, since regional parlances are still in the innovative mode to expand the list even further. 

Distinctive Shapes

Name                                  Description Interpretation
Conchiglie Seashell shaped Shells
Conchiglioni Large, stuffable seashell-shaped Large shells
Creste di Galli Short, curved and ruffled Cocks’ combs
Farfalle Bow tie or butterfly shaped Butterflies
Gnocchi Round in shape and often made with flour plus potatoes From the Italian gnocco, meaning “a knot in wood”
Rotelle Wagon wheel-shaped pasta Little wheels (from ruota-wheel)
Spirali A tube which spirals round Spirals

 

Tubular/Hollow Pasta

Name

Description Interpretation
Bucatini Hollow spaghetti Little holes
Cannelloni Large stuffable tubes Big pipes
Cavatappi Corkscrew-shaped macaroni Corkscrews; also known as Cellentani
Gomito Maccheroni Bent tubes Elbow macaroni
Penne Medium length tubes with ridges, cut diagonally at both ends Literally “pens” or fountain pen

 

Strand/String-like Pasta

Name

Description Interpretation
Spaghettoni Thick string Thick with little twine
Spaghetti Most common round-rod pasta Spago means twine, spaghetti is plural
Spaghettini Thin spaghetti Thin little twine
Vermicelloni Thick vermicelli Thick little worms

 

Ribbon Pasta

Name

Description Interpretation
Fettuccine Ribbon of pasta approximately 6.5 millimeters wide Little ribbons
Lasagne Very wide noodles that often have fluted edges Cooking pot

 

Micro Pasta

Name

Description Interpretation
Farfalline mini bow tie shaped pasta Either bowties or little butterflies
Funghini mini mushroom shaped pasta small mushrooms
Stelle tiny star-shaped pasta Stars

 

Stuffed Pasta

Name

Description Interpretation
Cannelloni Oven cooked, stuffed rolls of pasta Big tubes
Fagottini A ‘purse’ or bundle of pasta, made from a round of dough gathered into a ball-shaped bundle, often stuffed with ricotta and fresh pear Little purses
Ravioli Stuffed with cheese, pureed vegetables, ground meat or mixtures  
Tortellini Ring-shaped. Stuffed with a mixture of vegetables, cheese and meat   

 

Mind boggling shapes and sizes, right? And you thought “pasta” just a humble little dish from Italy! Think again, thankfully you don’t have to brood hard over the delicious pasta recipes I have in mind…just go for it! Happy cooking adventures! 

Cooking Tips

  • Cooking pasta correctly needs guidance in estimating the cooking time. It is better not to rely of the package to give you the correct cooking time. It is only a guideline.
  • Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8-12 minutes. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes and thickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.
  • Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call "al dente. Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water. (For baked dishes, because the  pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta should be boiled for less time than normal.)
  • Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.
  • Do not rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If the pasta is going to be tossed into the sauce immediately, then sticking should not be a problem.
  • Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagne sheets. If one does not rinse them then it is hard time separating the sheets without damaging them.
  • Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Discovery of Pasta

Who invented pasta, where and when? This is a contentious issue and very much a matter of culinary debate for the food Guru’s to contemplate. Of course various theories have been surfacing, from time to time. Till date, loyal Marco Polo fans are holding on to the belief that pasta originated in China and their great hero brought it back to Venice. From there it spread throughout Italy and later to the rest of Europe. This resilient fable, which necessitates that nothing should have been identified of pasta in Italy until 1295, when Marco Polo returned from his Far East expedition can be easily proved wrong, by citing recorded references in Italy to pasta of a prior date. In 1279 Genoa-Italy, foot soldiers in their inventory, listed dried pasta storage (i.e.'unabariscella plena de macaronis' to be exact), so that takes care of this myth. Marco Polo did make some real contribution with respect to introducing foods; especially of Asian foods to Europe.

According to another set of European food historians, stuffed pastas (i.e. lasagne, ravioli) are a medieval invention dating back to 1100 BC. In the European-Christian cultures they were served with different melted cheeses especially during the religious meat-abstaining days.

Even though different combinations of pasta and cheese were relished by the ancient cooks, the varied innovative “Avatars” of this particular dish is commonly attributed to Alfredo's (restaurant) in Rome, 1915. Why? Alfred Di Lelio, with a little help from the Hollywood big-shots, made it famous world-wide.

The globally famous word “pasta” originated in Italy in 1154 and it’s a Latin word, which translates to "dough, pastry cake. 

Recommended Recipes

Recipes For “A-Tryst-with-Pasta”

View More Recipes

Recent Festivals

9 colours of Navratri

9 colours of Navratri

Haven’t you heard, we eat with our eyes first! Taste on the other hand comes in later with texture a

Read more...

Shree Ganesh to the food festivities!

Shree Ganesh to the food festivities

Lord Ganesha has always been portrayed with a sweet in his hand and thanks to his love for good food

Read more...

Independence Day

Independence Day

Celebrate this day with the spirit of nationalism in hearts, digging into the delightful food...

Read more...

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan

The day of Raksha Bandhan is feast time for the brothers as their favourite dishes adorn the...

Read more...

Paneer

Paneer

Paneer, cottage cheese, chaman, chhena, the homemade white cheese with many names...

Read more...

Monsoon Carnival

Monsoon Carnival

When rains come lashing down,it whets the appetite for chatpati chaats and fried snacks...

Read more...

Dals of India

Dals of India

You will find dal being cooked practically in every Indian home. It forms an integral part of...

Read more...

Mother's Day

Mothers Day

Mother's Day is celebrated the world over on the second Sunday of the month of May to honour...

Read more...

Beat the heat this Summer

Summer Special

Certain things like aerated waters are best left in the bottles with the seal intact...

Read more...

Easter

Easter

In most places the favourite food during Easter is chocolate, which come in various shapes and sizes

Read more...

Baisakhi

Baisakhi

It is Baisakhi, the arrival of the harvesting season and the hot-blooded Punjabis celebrate it...

Read more...

Ram-Navami

Ram Navami

A lot of people observe fast on this auspicious day to attain perfection. The more devout fast for..

Read more...

Gudi Padwa

Gudi Padwa

It’s the first day of the month of Chaitra when one can find Maharashtrians celebrating Gudi Padwa..

Read more...

Summer Coolers

Summer Coolers

Mother Nature has in her benevolence given us many natural coolants. And what’s more they can be...

Read more...

Basant Panchami

Basant Panchami

For Basant Panchami the yellow colour dominates even for the food that’s prepared as offering...

Read more...

Holi

Holi

Here is an array of the delicacies that most households prepare during this colourful festival...

Read more...

International Women’s Day

International Womens Day

March 8th provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the achievements of women and to highlight...

Read more...

Maha Shivratri

Maha Shivratri

Maha Shivratri is a festival where people spend the entire day fasting and the entire night...

Read more...

Valentine’s day

Valentines day

This day of love, passion and romance is also highly related with the various “love foods”...

Read more...

Republic day

Republic day of India

On 26th of January every year India celebrates its Republic Day. It is one of the national...

Read more...

Makar Sankranti and Lohri

Makar Sankranti and Lohri

Each state has its own special dishes, but what is common all over the country is Sesame or til...

Read more...

Plan a grand New Year bash

New Year Recipes

As for any other party first of all draw out a list of guests you would like to grace your New Year.

Read more...

Christmas

Christmas

Well,Christmas Dinner Recipes are no longer a challenge to find really. All you have to do is...

Read more...

Everyday recipes

Everyday recipes

Each morning every efficient housewife has this nightmare which is what to cook that day that...

Read more...

Winter’s wealth

Winters wealth

Winter brings with it some great offerings. There is a deluge of beautiful seasonal fruits and...

Read more...

Guru Nanak Jayanti

Guru Nanak Jayanti

The anniversaries of Sikh Gurus are known as Guruparb and are celebrated with devotion and...

Read more...

Children's Day

Childrens Day

Children’s day in India is celebrated with a lot of gusto and is filled with a range of fun-filled..

Read more...

Diwali Delicacies

Diwali

Come Diwali and our household is buzzing with cries of ‘chalo mithai banaayen’! There is a great...

Read more...

Navratri and Dussehra

Navratri and Dussehra

Even though it is a period of fasting there is a fantastic array of sweets and other foods that...

Read more...

Indian spice box

Indian spice box

The Indian Spice box is indeed a many splendored thing. Experience tells us that there are certain..

Read more...

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi

A period of fun filled devotion to the lovable Lord Ganesha begins with the tinkling of bells and...

Read more...

Teachers' Day

Teachers Day

Teaching is the one profession that creates all other professions. Being a teacher automatically...

Read more...

Pateti

Pateti

Pateti is a festival of the Parsis and it is celebrated on the eve of New Year of the Zoroastrian...

Read more...

Janmashtami

Janmashtami

Janmashtami or Gokulashtami or Sri Krishna Jayanti celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. He is...

Read more...

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan

The day of Raksha Bandhan is feast time for the brothers as their favourite dishes adorn the...

Read more...

Independence Day

Independence Day

Celebrate this day with the spirit of nationalism in hearts, digging into the delightful food...

Read more...

Corn Mania

Corn Mania

Tell me frankly, which recipe comes to mind at the moment you say the word ‘corn’ or ‘sweet corn’...

Read more...

Tiffin Time !

Tiffin Time

What should you pack so that your kids not only get delighted with the visual presentation but...

Read more...

Ice Creams

Ice Creams

Now we all can enjoy making ice-cream at home, that too with different innovative recipes...

Read more...

Mango Twist

Mango Twist

Whether they are raw or ripe, mangoes can produce variety of dishes. Unripe mango is used....

Read more...

Snack time!

Snack time

Hunger pangs for a snack can attack at any time, for no rhyme or reason! Well, it is...

Read more...

Cheers for Chocolate!

Cheers for Chocolate

A tongue-tickler, an aphrodisiac, the divine snack, an anti-depressant, a pure delight, sinful...

Read more...

Paranthas and more..

Paranthas and more

Parantha or call it paratha, is what most Punjabis begin their day with! Yes, a nicely made hot...

Read more...

Fusion Food

Fusion Food

Fusion dining is in! At my home, we have a mix of Punjabi preparations and Gujarati food at one...

Read more...

Accompaniments

Accompaniments

Accompaniments like chutneys, raitas and dips not only add a touch of perkiness to the main dishes..

Read more...

Kids can cook!

Kids can cook

Do you have a budding chef at home? Would you like to help the talent grow further? Then all you...

Read more...

The Pizza World

The Pizza World

Pizza can be found in practically every country of the world. They have, in the last 10-15 years...

Read more...

Noodles

Noodles

Noodles are no longer ‘Chinese food’! The easy availability of noodles in the market has opened...

Read more...

Beverages

Beverages

We are talking about beverages. What we need to know is that when the weather is hot, there is one..

Read more...

Foods with a twist

Foods with a twist

‘Foods With A Twist’ - now you may ask what exactly it means. Well they are a little mysterious...

Read more...

Street Food

Street Food

Street food seems to have taken over the taste buds of most food aficionados. Be it Mumbai, Delhi...

Read more...

Tandoori Cooking at Home

Tandoori Cooking at Home

Tandoori food is considered very healthy as it is easy to cook with llimited use of fat as a...

Read more...

Breads and more!

Breads and more

Imagine a typical Indian meal without roti? Or its other versions: paranthas or puris?...

Read more...

'Wedding Collection’ – an ideal gift for newly weds

Wedding Collection

I have made it easier for you by giving you recipes to wow your in-laws and win over your...

Read more...

Steamed Delights

Steamed Delights

Steaming is one of the better ways to cook food especially when you want to skimp on your calorie...

Read more...

Biryani making is an art

Biryani making is an art

Biryani cooking is a medium of expression for chefs and culinary maestros of yester years...

Read more...

Go Green

Go Green

The go green evolution, has taken its time, effort and circumstance to shape-up, so that we would..

Read more...

Cooking for Pregnant Women

Cooking for Pregnant Women

During pregnancy, it is important to eat foods that provide all of the nutrients required for the...

Read more...

Low Calorie

Low Calorie

Festivities mean a round of lunches, dinners and parties with a lot of snacky fried food and...

Read more...

Rice for all occasions

Rice for all occasions

Did you know that there are about seven-thousand varieties of rice grown all around the world!

Read more...

TV Dinners

TV Dinners

What’s a good TV dinner? Something that is tasty and makes TV watching all the more fun! Something..

Read more...

Chinese Food

Chinese Food

The demand for Chinese food is growing at a very fast pace. This entire furore about Chinese food...

Read more...

Cooking in minutes

Cooking in minutes

Take total control. It is about time we took a grip on things and control time so that we can...

Read more...

No-oil Cooking

No oil Cooking

Why no oil? It is not just to reduce calories in order to reduce those extra kilos...

Read more...

Sandwiches– why the world loves them!

Sandwiches

Handy food, best for those on the move, a sandwich is difficult to describe in a single sentence!

Read more...

Carrots

Carrots

Carrots are the best known and the best loved root vegetables. Be they red, orange, reddish-orange..

Read more...

Mithai

Mithai

The sweetest thing one Indian would say to another would be ‘muh meetha karo’ or words to the same..

Read more...

Party time!

Party time

Party is all about entertaining family and friends with good food, great company and a lot of...

Read more...

After-school snacks!

After school snacks

It’s not surprising that most kids are hungry after school, though they might need less frequent...

Read more...

Fast Food

Fast Food

In India fast food take on many forms depending on the city where they are sold. They are tasty....

Read more...

Food for Diabetics

Food for Diabetics

Did you at any point feel that even though your diet seems adequate you still end up feeling...

Read more...

Summer Vacation

Summer Vacation

Summer vacations! Kids are excited because there is no school while mothers need to really think...

Read more...

Just Desserts

Just Desserts

Why not serve desserts in the grandest way possible! Desserts can add a little bit of drama at the..

Read more...

Soups are super!

Soups are super

If one wishes to maintain a healthy diet, soups packed with the goodness of fresh ingredients and...

Read more...

Exam time!

Exam time

In this modern world the challenges faced are also intense and parents ensure that their child...

Read more...

Salads

Salads

There are certain guidelines that can help you make a wonderful salad with carbohydrates...

Read more...

Pickles

Pickles

Pickling means preserving the vegetable for a number of months taking great care not only while...

Read more...

Restaurant Style Cooking

Restaurant Style Cooking

Are there many secrets in a restaurant kitchen that can never be revealed?! Not at all. Just be...

Read more...

No onion no garlic? So what!

No onion no garlic So what

Is it possible to have a gravy without using onions and garlic? This question always comes up...

Read more...

Cooking with Leftovers

Cooking with Leftovers

It is but natural that most of us despair over leftovers especially when there are a lot of them..

Read more...

Finger Foods

Finger Foods

Planning a grand party at home? You must be planning a menu that will please your guests...

Read more...

The stout sprout!

The stout sprout

There is a perfect food known to man and that is sprouted seeds. They are so completely natural...

Read more...

Unexpected Guests

Unexpected Guests

If someone unexpected drops in then it’s a moment of panic! Sometimes it so happens that there...

Read more...

Wishlist