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Monday, January 31, 2011

Pasta - In Any Shape Still the Same

Pasta all'uovo (egg pasta)Image via Wikipedia
By Constance Grayson

One can hardly think of Italy without thinking of pasta. The two just go hand-in-hand like peanut butter and jelly or Lucy and Ethel. For years, I had heard the legend that the recipe and technique for making pasta had come back to Italy with Marco Polo after he had traveled to China.
Later research seems to disprove that. Evidence of pasta in Italy has been found in the Etruscan and Roman times. Nonetheless, pasta is truly the quintessential Italian food dish.
Pasta is essentially made from the same recipe regardless of shape-just flour and water, sometimes a pinch of salt or egg-easily mixed together and rolled out. The different shapes do, however, have a function. The shape of the pasta will control how much sauce will be retained with each bite. This affects the ultimate taste to the eater.

Pasta is made in five basic types. The long strand pasta is made to be twisted around a fork. This type includes the familiar spaghetti and ranges from angel hair as the smallest in diameter to bucatini as the largest. Ribbon or flat cut type pasta includes fettucini, lasagne, linguini and tagliatelle. Elbow macaroni, manicotti, penne and rigatoni are examples of tubular pasta which can either be smooth or ridged, cut straight or on the diagonal. Shaped pasta is my favorite-from fusilli (shaped like corkscrews) to farfalle (like butterflies), the shaped pasta is limited only by the imagination of the pasta maker. We are all familiar as well with the final type of pasta-stuffed-such as ravioli and tortellini.
My favorite sauce for any type pasta is a red, meatless sauce. Begin with ten large tomatoes, which have been heated in boiling water and then dropped into ice water, peeled and the seeds removed. The roughly chop the tomatoes. In large sauce pot, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, chopped onion, celery and carrots. Saute until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and 1 cup of a good drinkable red wine. Cook until the tomatoes are tender, stirring frequently, approximately 30 minutes. Put mixture through either a food processor or blender to puree. Serve over the pasta of your choice and garnish with fresh basil.
Bon appetito. More details on Italian food can be found at
Constance Grayson
Experience My Italy, Inc.

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