Name a food with no cholesterol and an endless repertoire of
recipes. The answer? Pasta.
The Chinese first used the doughy delicacy around 5000 B.C.E, according to the
National Pasta Association. Thousands of years
later, the Italians perfected the art of pasta making, developing a plethora
of techniques, recipes and sauces.
Today, it is a staple in millions of diets. From mac and cheese to pad
thai, pasta bridges age and culture boundaries.
The Dirt on the Dough
Once you try homeade, hand-kneaded pasta, you might not go back to the
packaged stuff. To serve four, the basic ingredients for pasta dough are:
4 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil (optional)
salt (to taste)
If you're feeling adventurous, add the following ingredients for a bit of
Green: Spinach is the key. Parboil or chard the leafy greens, then drain.
Puree or finely chop and combine with the pasta ingredients.
Red: Pass the beets. Boil unpeeled beets in salted water until tender.
Peel, chop and puree before adding to the dough ingredients. You can also
Yellow: Add a pinch of ground saffron to the flour and salt for the pasta
dough. Mix well before stirring in the eggs and oil.
Green Confetti: Fresh herbs, please! Chop your choice of fresh herbs.
Mix and match basil and garlic or chives and green onion. For a more exotic
taste, try sage, marjoram or even dandelion.
Purple/Black: A Venetian tradition made with squid ink. Add small amounts
until you achieve the desired color.
How will you choose between penne, cavatelli, and gnocchi? Believe it or
not, the shape, size and texture of pasta is more than eye candy.
The crazy contours were developed to hold particular sauces.
According to the National Pasta Association, lighter
sauces complement thin pastas like angel hair or spaghetti. Thicker shapes,
like fettuccine, are complemented by creamy and rich sauces. Pasta shapes with holes are
great for chunky sauces.
Here are a few heavenly matches. For a more complete guide, visit
Gourmet. For quick reference, consult CNN's
Fusilli These spirals are all-purpose. Good in soups, salads, or sauces.
Conchiglie Medium-sized shells put a new twist on mac and cheese.
Vermicelli Round and thinner than spaghetti. Great in stir fry or with any
Recipesource: Pasta Recipes
This compilation of 1,658 recipes offers a unique mix of homegrown
recipes. Try the Pasta Blue, Alpine Baked Pasta Fontina, or
Rotelle with Smoked Turkey, Broccoli and Peppers.
The Low-Fat Vegetarian Archive
More than half of the vegetarian pastas at this site are vegan. Using
everything from lima beans to tofu, these recipes provide great alternatives
to the traditional fare.
All Things Pasta
Offers information on pasta
culture and goods, as well as raw materials, technologies, events,
professional equipment, newsletters and more. You can also explore the
controversy behind who ate pasta first.
National Pasta Association
Offers a guide to techniques, recipes, fun facts and nutrition. Find out why
penne and ditalini are better baked than served with sauce. You'll also find a
complete list of American pasta makers and distributors here.