Pasta is a staple in most kitchens and dining tables all over the globe. Whether it is for regular meals, special occasions, or just a snack, you can enjoy pasta with the numerous dishes that you can create with it. It provides nutrition that you’ll be needing to meet your everyday energy requirements. A portion of cooked plain pasta is high in carbohydrates (mainly starch), contains less than 10% protein, and is low in fat.
But what is pasta made of? Pasta is usually made of durum but is sometimes made of wheat; it can be enriched depending on how you made it. Paired with the best sauce and other dishes, pasta is already a complete meal that you will surely enjoy.
History of Pasta
Historically, it is hard to trace the origins of pasta and how exactly it developed. The word pasta comes from “paste” in Italian. The term refers to the dough made from a combination of flour, water, and eggs. All these ingredients have been used around the world since a long time ago.
Way back in 1154 A.D. was when Italian Cuisine was first recorded and introduced to the world in Sicily. Meanwhile, the Chinese made their noodles as early as 3000 B.C.; these noodles are not far from the pasta that we know today.
Then, the Americans propagated the mass-produced pasta when they set up the first macaroni machine in 1789. By 1848, they had the first industrial pasta factory that Americans built in Brooklyn. Today, pasta is everyone’s favorite with its different names, colors, textures, and shapes that correspond to a certain preparation.
Procedure in Making Homemade Pasta
What is pasta made of? Is there a standard procedure for making pasta? Traditionally, semolina flour is the base of pasta. This type of flour is made from durum wheat which has a high content of gluten and protein. Unlike noodles, it is not very stretchy, which is why it can be molded into different shapes. It also stays firm when boiled in water if it is not overcooked.
Durum wheat gives a natural yellowish color. However, there are some colored varieties, which have been cooked by adding colored ingredients such as beetroot for red pasta, spinach for green pasta, or cuttlefish ink for black pasta.
Those who opt for a healthier meal choose gluten-free pasta because it is low in fat and sodium. Usually, those who are allergic to gluten and people on a strict diet are very particular with what pasta is made of. Many home cooks have also taken to creating their own homemade pasta recipe.
Gluten-free pasta is from a grain containing no gluten, like wholegrain flour or a blend of rice and cornflour. So, what is pasta made of? By mixing Semolina flour with water and egg, kneading and forming the dough, and pushing the dough through different molds or machines, you will be able to produce a delicious homemade pasta.
Kinds of Pasta
There are two main kinds of pasta, dry and fresh. Dry and fresh pasta comes in several shapes and varieties, with more than 300 known types and different names based on their specific uses. Pasta types can be categorized as long and short pasta, tubes, and flat or sheets.
Both kinds of pasta can be cooked using three different preparations. The most common is plated with sauce. You can also prepare pasta in a soup or baked it in the oven. It may seem that they are almost the same, but each preparation produces different textures, tastes, and colors of the pasta.
Made from semolina flour, water, and salt, dry pasta can be stored at room temperature. This kind of pasta lasts longer than fresh pasta. Dried pasta is often industrially produced through an extrusion process to maintain consistency in appearance for commercial distribution.
But as the demand for pasta rises, most of the products available in the market are made from common wheat. Many of the pasta types are only possible with dry pasta. The firmness and rough texture allow it to absorb flavorful sauces.
In contradiction, fresh pasta is usually produced by hand. Simple machines are also available to make homemade pasta, but they should be consumed right away. Many households make their own pasta containing egg and water. This hastens the spoilage of the pasta; thus, it is essential for fresh pasta to be refrigerated. It is smoother, tender, and takes only half the time to cook compared to dried pasta. Its freshness is perfect for cream and dairy-based sauces.
Although fresh pasta is available in groceries and is commercially produced by large-scale factories, its shelf-life is almost the same. Fresh pasta from the supermarket will last for just two to three days when refrigerated. Then it will start to absorb water.
The Different Types of Pasta
There are loads of different types of pasta. There are almost hundreds of names, and probably most of us haven’t seen all the pasta types. So, rather than naming them one by one, grouping them by categories is more helpful to guide us on how to properly cook pasta.
Cooking time differs according to the pasta’s texture, shape, and size. The most common and well-loved pasta may be categorized into the following: short pasta, long pasta, sheet pasta, stuffed pasta, and dumpling pasta.
Long pasta, as the name suggests, are long and thin, shaped like strands. They are best paired with cream-based sauces. Commonly, this type of pasta is made using small and chunky ingredients.
- Angel Hair
In contrast to long pasta, short pasta comes in a variety of shapes. The different shapes help short pasta retain sauce. Short pasta is the most delicious when cooked with thick and chunky sauces. These sauces usually contain a variety of vegetables and meat.
Like a piece of paper, sheet pasta noodles are flat and thin. You may already be familiar with one of the most well-loved sheet pastas – lasagna.
Filled pasta are quite different from the other common pasta types. Instead of cooking the pasta and mixing it with sauce, filled pasta is meant to be stuffed. Choices of the stuffing are usually delicious, cheesy, and gooey vegetable or protein-based filling.
- Jumbo shells
Dumpling pasta is slowly gaining popularity. Chances are, you have already sampled its most popular type, the gnocchi.
Maybe you encountered so many types of pasta on your grocery run, and you start wondering, “what is pasta made of?” Now that we already answered it for you, you don’t have to wonder anymore. Already a complete meal, pasta is traditionally made of flour, egg, and water. All you need to make delicious homemade pasta are the correct ingredients, a good recipe, and the patience and determination to make a wonderful homecooked meal. Learn more about pasta here.