Pasta Dishes to Try

Italian food is hearty, filling and often based around a certain type of noodle, which are collectively called pasta. In Italy, pasta is typically made from a combination of eggs and two kinds of flour – traditional white and a finely-milled yellow wheat flour called semolina. It’s a simple recipe, but the array of shapes, sizes and textures it can produce is absolutely astonishing! Here are a few of the most famous Italian pasta dishes and the ingredients that make them so well-known:

Spaghetti Carbonara

Made with long, thin strands of noodle called spaghetti, this recipe calls for hunks of diced bacon – carbonara refers to “meat” – butter, garlic, eggs, and parmesan or peccarino cheese. The result is a thin yet savory coating on each strand of tender pasta.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Named for the region in Italy that originally created the dish, this recipe also calls for spaghetti pasta, and blends it with bacon, tomato puree, garlic, ground beef, beef broth, herbs like rosemary and even finely-minced vegetables like carrots and celery for a hearty, chunky sauce.

Fettuccine Alfredo

This famous dish uses long, flat pasta noodles called fettuccine to hold a rich and flavorful – if not exactly healthy – sauce made with heavy cream, lots of cheese and plenty of butter. While some recipes do incorporate additional ingredients like broccoli or slices of chicken, the traditional preparation only calls for the sauce itself.

Lasagna

Very wide, flat noodles with ruffled edges, called lasagna noodles, are used to separate cake-like layers of savory ingredients in lasagna. Baked like a casserole, the dish consists of layers of lasagna noodles, tomato sauce, ricotta cheese that has been blended with an egg and herbs, and grated mozzarella cheese. Some variations made in the American south switch out cottage cheese for the ricotta.

Stuffed Shells

Made with huge palm-sized shell-shaped noodles, this recipe calls for them to be carefully boiled to al dente – an Italian term that means “firm to the teeth” and refers to cooking pasta about 3/4s of the way through. The shells are then stuffed with a mixture of ricotta cheese, Parmesan, shredded mozzarella and sometimes meat or sausage, and laid in a casserole dish. They are then covered with sauce, which adds flavor and prevents burning, and topped with more cheese before they’re baked until the cheese is golden brown.

Bucatini Puttanesca

This colorfully-named dish actually refers to a “lady of the evening,” and is named that way because it carries quite the punch of spice! Made with long, hollow spaghetti-like noodles called bucatini, the sauce is a combination of tomato puree, anchovies, capers, red pepper, herbs and olives that produce a pleasantly spicy result that may be a little too hot for sensitive palates.

Gnocchi Pomodoro

Tender, soft dumplings that incorporate potato as well as flour, gnocchi is a popular pasta dish in Italy, and very filling. They’re often so flavorful and pleasant, they don’t need a very complicated sauce to be delicious. A pomodoro sauce – Italian for “apple of love”, which is what they call the oft-used tomato – is a very simple blend of fresh tomatoes, herbs, garlic and a pinch of salt for a fresh and delightful dish.

Shrimp Scampi with Linguine

An absolute must-try in Italian restaurants, this dish is served over buttery linguine, a pasta with a size and texture between fettuccine and spaghetti. It calls for shrimp sauteed in white wine or vermouth, garlic, parsely, lemon juice and lemon zest and butter for a thin, savory sauce.

Baked Ziti

A must-try casserole that’s always a hit at large gatherings, baked ziti uses thin tube-like noodles called, unsurprisingly, ziti. It is usually made by mixing al dente prepared ziti with ricotta, tomato sauce, cooked ground beef or ground sausage, garlic, herbs and ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheeses. The mixture is poured into a baking dish and topped with more cheese, much like lasagna. The result is a firm and hearty “cake” like dish that can be easily sliced and served – or, if more sauce is added, it can be ladled out like a traditional pasta dish.

 

Enjoy these dishes with friends and family, and enjoy a taste of Italy with every forkful. Once you try one, you’ll want to try them all!

Why pasta is better than rice

Eating a healthy diet is one of the key things that almost everyone would like to achieve in their day-day life. Both pasta and rice are an excellent source of energy which contains low fat content. Rice have fiber which helps our bodies in getting rid of waste products and B vitamins for releasing energy from the consumed foods for proper working of the body. On the other hand, pasta contains dough made out of durum wheat B vitamins, fiber and iron.

Some people opine that rice is more superior to pasta in terms of their dietetic value whereas there are those who advocate for pasta compared to rice. According to researchers and nutritionists, there are pros and cons of eating the two types of starch-rich foods. In reality, our health status, the way we cook pasta or rice, our nutritional requirements amongst other factors dictates their importance in our bodies. Both of them serve given dietary purposes and are part of our well being to some extent. For those who still think of choosing between pasta and rice, there is need to consider their properties wholesomely well as their health impacts. This article will therefore give you a hint on why pasta is better or rather important than rice.

Glycemic index: This is the rate at which our bodies convert the carbohydrates form food we consume into sugars. Those foods with a low glycemic index are more preferred because they help in ensuring a stable blood sugar level while the foods with high glycemic index have a high tendency of spiking the ups and downs of energy. Pasta has a low glycemic index of about 40 whereas rice has a higher index of about 70. It can therefore be deduced that rice can cause trembling of blood sugar levels, cardiovascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes thus making pasta a better option.

Vitamins and dietary minerals: refined rice and pasta have lower levels of dietary contents and vitamins amounting to a few health benefits compared to their whole grain versions. Just to compare the nutritional value for an equal content of pasta and rice, pasta has a higher amount of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium, potassium, vitamins B2, B3, B9, E and K.

Level of satiation: based on this factor, both pasta and rice have no distinction but rather the same level of satiation. On a personal level, I love eating too much pasta, not just because it is delicious but also because I am not satiated like rice does. You cannot eat too much rice as soon as you feel you are full but pasta can.

Cooking time and cooking options: cooking rice can be problematic because it sticks to the pan and needs constant attention while you just need to put pasta in hot water and nothing else. Moreover pasta takes between 10-15 minutes to boil while rise takes 30-45 minutes.

In a nutshell, pasta helps in regulating intestinal transit, losing weight, stabilizing blood sugar levels as well as keeping a longer satiation. All these cannot be achieved by eating rice. It is therefore important to include pasta in your meal and a little bit of rice.

How is penne pasta made?

The only one word that will sound like music to a hungry man’s ears is ‘Pasta’. And if there is something that will sound all the more appealing, it is ‘Penne Pasta’! While there are several different kinds of pastas like Fusilli, Girandole and Farfalle, it is Penne that is universally loved since it can be used to make a variety of dishes and thanks to the simple, cylindrical shape of the penne, it looks great as well.

 

Making it at home:

While one can easily buy the penne pastas from the stores, there is a strange satisfaction when one makes pasta at home – the quiet kneading of the pasta dough, the energy needed in patiently rolling it out and the focus required in cutting them into strips of equal length and shape.

If you are thinking of making pasta at home and love penne pasta, then let us tell you, you have made the right choice by deciding to figure out how you can make penne pasta.

 

Ingredients:

The basic ingredients that are used in making pastas, is the same all over the world. This is because it is generally the shape of the pasta that makes one different from the other along with other small differences like the texture and the thickness.

You will need fine white flour, or the American bread flour is also a good choice since it has a higher gluten level and will thus give you firmer pastas, eggs (for a better quality, we suggest you increase the proportion of yolks while decreasing the proportion of whites respectively) and a fine amount of sea salt.

 

Let’s get down to business:

Make a small hill with the flour on your marble counter and make a well in the center. Pour the eggs and the salt in and start kneading them together to make a dough that is smooth, firm and elastic. You can add in a few drops of water will kneading it but not much. You have to be generous with the kneading as not kneading it well will lead to the dough tearing apart while you are rolling it out.

 

Now divide the dough in to two pieces and take one of them and start rolling it on your working counter. A marble counter is the best for this, but a wooden and formica counter would also do the trick. Start rolling it out from the center and keep flipping it and flouring it so that it is evenly rolled and doesn’t stick to the counter.

 

You need to keep rolling it until it becomes almost transparent, or as thin as you can make it. One idea that you can use is that when your dough has reached a specific size, wrap it around the rolling pin and then invert the pin. Then, as you unroll it, hold the unrolled part firmly as you lightly tug at the part that is unrolled to get the desired thinness without tearing the dough. This is a difficult part when it comes to making the penne pasta and one needs to have extensive practice and patience while engaged in this phase of making it.

Now roll the sheet into a tube and slice it into medium, cylindrical shaped pieces, to get your penne pasta. Now give them a slight shake to remove the strands and allow them to dry on a rack. Do the same thing with the second portion of the dough.

 

  You can also use a pasta machine:

If the traditional method described above is giving you the jitters, you might want to invest in a good pasta machine. Get an electrically operated pasta machine in which you just have to pour in the eggs and flour and let the machine do the rest of the work. Use the nozzle that is made for penne pasta to get the perfect ones.

In big factories, huge machines are running 24X7 to knead the dough perfectly, roll them out and precisely cut them into the penne pasta that you love so much.

Conclusion:

While the ingredients are not much, it is the kneading and rolling out the part that is the most tedious ones, especially in penne pasta. Thankfully the machines do a better and faster job than us and spare us a lot of effort!

 

Different Types of Pasta Sauces for Italian Food Lovers to Enjoy

Pasta sauce has been created and perfected by Italian cooks and chefs during the 19th century. However, this particular food was used by the Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Chinese and French long before it became a staple food within Italy.

In short, the Italians might not have invented this dish but they have certainly perfected. Pasta sauce helps to define the cuisine of the Italians. This tomato based salsa (the Italian and Spanish word for sauce) has been created in many different varieties and flavors throughout the years. The following information will describe the various pasta sauces that are now used to create different dishes.

 

Traditional Spaghetti Sauce

You might have heard of the commercial spaghetti sauce brands Prego or Ragu. Both of these sauces are popular ready to eat spaghetti sauce that many people use for their Italian dishes. These commercial spaghetti sauce brands are based off of the traditional spaghetti sauces that were created by Italians.

Traditional spaghetti sauce is made out tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, ground beef and from Italian spices such as bay leaves, oregano, basil and Italian seasoning. This sauce can be prepared with or without the ground beef. Keep in mind that traditional spaghetti sauce is typically prepared with rounded beef meatballs.

 

Fettuccine

Fettuccine is another popular type of pasta sauce. It is made from Parmesan cheese and butter. It is the second most commonly used type of pasta sauce next to the traditional variety. Fettuccine is a great sauce because it provides a different alternative to the standard tomato based salsas that people normally eat.

 

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is similar to traditional spaghetti sauce. However, standard marinara sauces do not contain any type of meat or ingredients such as anchovies. Also, marinara sauces could include things such as wine, capers or olives. This type of sauce is usually served over pasta and it is lighter than regular spaghetti sauce.

 

Vodka Sauce

Vodka sauce is a potent type of spaghetti sauce that is made out of tomatoes, herbs. cream and vodka. This type of sauce is not for minors and it is often served over pasta with seafood, steak or veal dishes. This type of sauce is not common but it has a unique flavor for people who are crazy about pasta.

 

Arrabbiata Sauce

Arrabbiata sauce is a very spicy pasta salsa. It contains red chili peppers which is the ingredient that separates from the other pasta sauce varieties. Arrabbiata sauce is sometimes made with wine and lemon juice. Meat is not typically added into the sauce and it is commonly used as an alternative substance to other pasta sauce varieties.

 

Cabornara Sauce

Cabornara is sauce but it does not have the same consistency as most other types of pasta sauce. This particular sauce primarily uses eggs, Romano cheese, black pepper and bacon. This is an egg based sauce that sticks to the noodles and it is simple to prepare.

 

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca was literally the meal of prostitutes long before it became a home standard Italian cuisine. Hundreds of years ago, prostitutes would eat a meal of tomato sauce and pasta between the clients. This sauce is similar to regular spaghetti but it usually does not contain meat. Anchovies, olives and capers are featured in this sauce as well.

 

Pesto

Pesto is a green colored pasta sauce that has been used since Roman times. This type of dish has a unique look and flavor. Pesto is made out of ingredients such as European pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, basil leaves, sheep’s milk, olive oil, vinegar and coarse salt. This type of pasta sauce is thick and green. It also has a thick texture. It is served with pastas such as linguine.

 

Butter and Oil Sauces

Butter and Oil based sauces are also popular in Italian cooking. Many pasta salads contain this type of coating. Butter and oil sauces are light and they blend well with many of the Italian styled vegetables that people like to eat.

Keep in mind that ingredients such as cream and lemon are not commonly featured inside of Italian cooking. However, some sauces do contain these ingredients. Most of these sauces are used on pastas other than spaghetti and they are often served up accompanying dishes such as seafood (for the lemon based salsas. The heavy meats such as beef typically uses cream based salsas.