For years pasta was a go-to staple meal for American families. Quick and easy to cook, has lots of yummy carbs, and is low in fat. I guess times have changed! Pasta is used more sparingly in our lower carb, higher fat diets. But it’s definitely still as delicious! And what with the rise of gluten-free pasta made from brown rice or quinoa, it can satisfy one’s need for whole grains. And be a healthful vehicle for delicious veggies, or even be made from veggies, as the latest zucchini noodle trend and brilliant usage of spaghetti squash have shown.
And since National Pasta Day is this Saturday the 17th, we’re giving full permission to all you carb-fiends to get your linguine on, and enjoy a bowl or two.
Pasta means “paste” in Italian, and today we’re focusing on Italy-inspired dishes that make you want to say “mangia mangia” and twist spaghetti around your fork. But it’s important to remember that Asian noodles pre-date Italian pasta, and China likely deserves credit for the birth of the Italian variation, though with such a long history it’s hard to be sure!
Noodles of different origins vary greatly, but traditional Italian noodles are made from durum wheat flour (or semolina) and water or egg. And while we in the United States are most familiar with dried pasta (often imported from Italy), fresh pasta came first. The dried variety was created to preserve this fresh and highly perishable staple. You’ll often find that dried pastas are made with water, and fresh pastas with egg, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. What you can count on is that dried pasta has a firmer texture making it better suited for heavier sauces, while fresh pasta is delicate and best appreciated with a lighter preparation.
HOW TO STORE
Dust fresh pasta with flour and wrap it to store in the fridge for a couple of days before using, if necessary. Dry pasta can be stored for a very long time in an airtight container in a cool, dry place such as your pantry.
Photo credit: The Cook’s Thesaurus
Photo credit: The Southern
Photo credit: The Cook’s Thesaurus
Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Recipe by Marcella Hazan, courtesy of Food52; Photo credit: James Ransom
An absolute classic from Marcella Hazan, the ultimate Italian cookbook author who brought favorites from Italy to home kitchens across the United States. National Pasta Day would not be complete without mention of and tribute to this perfect recipe.
2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes (prepared as described below); or 2 cups canned, imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
salt to taste
Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.
Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
Taste and correct for salt. Before tossing with pasta, you may remove the onion (as Hazan recommended) and save for another use, but many opt to leave it in. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.
HOW TO PREPARE FRESH TOMATOES:
The blanching method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them into coarse pieces.
The freezing method (from David Tanis, via The Kitchn): Freeze tomatoes on a baking sheet until hard. Thaw again, either on the counter or under running water. Skin them and cut them into coarse pieces.
The food mill method: Wash the tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl. Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.
Featured Pasta Recipes from Foodstand Posts!
Wondering how to make that inspiring post you saw on Foodstand?
Here are your fellow Foodstand friends with their recipes!
Tagliatelle with Fresh Greens
Homemade by annefood
This recipe calls for a chiffonade (thinly sliced strips) of basil, which sounds more complex than it is. The best way to do this is to stack the leaves on top of each other, about 8 in a pile, and roll them lengthwise into a cylinder before slicing across with a sharp knife. It helps release the basil’s flavor.
9 ounces dried Tagliatelle egg pasta
1 head radicchio, cored and chopped
2 ounces arugula
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 large clove of garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
the zest from 2 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 ounces chèvre, crumbled
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Cook your pasta according to package directions until al dente. Meanwhile, whisk together the garlic, lemon juice and zest, olive oil, a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Set the dressing aside.
Add the radicchio and arugula to a large bowl. Chiffonade your basil, and toss that in too. Drain your cooked pasta, and add it on top of your greens, along with the dressing. Toss to coat. Add the crumbled chèvre and toss so it melts slightly, and top with your toasted pine nuts. Drizzle with additional olive oil, and grind some more black pepper to garnish.
Pecan Pasta Sauce
Homemade by Cravingsinamsterdam
I love this rich pecan sauce. It’s not something I eat very often but when I do, it is so satisfying. It is super easy to make. This recipe serves 3.
3 medium white onions, sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 sprigs of thyme
1 garlic clove, minced
100gr of pecans, chopped
½ cup of milk
40gr of grated parmesan
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
¼ cup of the pasta cooking water
400gr of the pasta of your choice
Over medium heat, add the olive oil to a large pan. Add the sliced onions and thyme. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Then lower the heat and cook for another 4 minutes. Add the garlic, pecans, cream and milk. Stir and then put it all in a blender. Add the grated parmesan and blend. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the pasta as instructed on the package. Reserve ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water to loosen up the sauce.
Add the reserved pasta water to the sauce and mix until combined.
Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce and serve it right away. If you want, you can add a bit of chopped pecans and some thyme leaves to decorate the plate.
More Pasta around Foodstand!
Pasta needs good eggs/flour.
Kabocha, sweet yam and tofu
Ingredients: Pasta, extra firm tofu, kabocha, yam, carrot, potato, red onion, scallions
Avocado pasta for dinner! I blended 2 avocados with greek yogurt, lime juice, celery salt, coriander, cayenne, garlic powder & pepper. Topped it with a fried egg & chili flakes.
Spent the afternoon making homemade Spinach Ricotta Ravioli. I love working with fresh dough and making them one by one.
Ingredients: Pasta, ricotta cheese, spinach, egg