Pasta (Italian pasta, from Latin pasta
"dough, pastry cake") is a generic term for foods made from an
unleavened dough of flour and water, and sometimes a combination of egg
and flour. Pastas include noodles in various lengths, widths and shapes, and
varieties that are filled with other ingredients like
Left: Display window
The word pasta is also used to refer to dishes in which pasta products are a
primary ingredient. It is usually served with sauce.
There are approximately 600 different shapes of pasta. Examples include
spaghetti (thin rods), maccheroni (tubes or cylinders), fusilli (swirls), and
lasagne (sheets). Two other noodles,
gnocchi and spätzle, are sometimes
considered pasta. They are both traditional in parts of Italy.
Pasta is categorized in two basic styles: dried and
fresh. Dried pasta made
without eggs can be stored for up to two years under ideal conditions, while
fresh pasta will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. Pasta is
generally cooked by boiling.
Left: Dried pasta
varieties: spaghetti and fusilli.
Under Italian law, dry pasta (pasta secca) can only be made
from durum wheat flour or durum wheat semolina. Durum flour and durum
semolina have a yellow tinge in color. Italian pasta is traditionally cooked al
dente (Italian: "firm to the bite", meaning not too soft). Outside Italy, dry
pasta is frequently made from other types of flour (such as wheat flour), but
this yields a softer product that cannot be cooked al dente. There are many
types of wheat flour with varying gluten and protein depending on variety of
Fresh pasta may include eggs (pasta
all'uovo 'egg pasta'). Whole wheat pasta has become increasingly popular because
of its perceived health benefits. Most whole wheat pastas have a mixture of
whole grain and regular grain ingredients.
Pasta is generally served with some type of sauce; the sauce
and the type of pasta are usually matched based on consistency, ease of eating
etc. Common pasta sauces in Northern Italy include
bolognese, which usually adds meat to the sauce.
In Central Italy, there are
simple sauces such as tomato sauce, amatriciana and carbonara.
Southern Italian sauces include spicy tomato, garlic, and olive oil,
with the pasta often paired with fresh vegetables or seafood.
Pesto alla genovese.