The word Pasta pertains to a combination of flour, cereal, and water and/or eggs, which is then kneaded and formed into various shapes and consistencies, is dried and cooked prior to eating. Italy is believed to have decided in ancient times to propagate these dishes to the rest of the world. Today, pasta is one the basic food staples that we have come to use for creating some of the world’s most adored dishes. Pasta is a family meal favorite, an easy mainstay recipe of many celebrated chefs, a favorite go to meal when all else fails and a standard inclusion to any festivity or celebration. Easy pasta dishes are countless as healthy pasta dishes are recognized by physicians and nutritionists. Pasta dishes digest slowly making it an excellent carbohydrate. It is usually prepared with healthy olive oil, and is often accompanied by cheese, tomato sauce, vegetables, beans , seafood and lean pork or beef. There are also plenty of easy to cook chicken and pasta dishes to choose from. So to celebrate the pasta, here are 5 easy and well-known favorites (and a few “pasta-isms”) that the world’s gastronomic fans have been eating for decades (in some cases, centuries), proving that whether simply prepared or with grandiosity, pasta rules!
Spaghetti with Meatballs
“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”
― Sophia Loren
This is an easy Italian-American meal that usually consists of spaghetti, tomato sauce and meatballs. This easy pasta favorite is attributed to Italian immigrants in New York City during the early 20th-century. The National Pasta Association first published a recipe for Spaghetti with meatballs in the 1920’s.
Kyle Phillips, a food critic and author claims he has found similar dishes in Italy that were created much earlier.
Macaroni and Cheese
“I only like food without color, like potatoes, bread, and pasta.”
– Emma Roberts
“Mac and Cheese” is an all American favorite and is one of the easiest dishes to make. It is traditionally baked in the oven, but it may also be cooked in a sauce pan over a stove starting from the basic ingredients or using a packaged mix. Its main ingredients are elbow macaroni, white sauce, and cheese. The easy dish is particularly associated with the American South. In 1824, a recipe called “macaroni and cheese” appeared in the cookbook The Virginia Housewife. The article was written by a certain Mary Randolph. Her easy recipe had three ingredients namely, cheese, macaroni and butter. It was to be oven baked at 400 °F. It was one of the most influential cookbooks of the 19th century.
“When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s ‘The Thieving Magpie,’ which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.”
― Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Fettuccine Alfredo is an easy type of pasta made from Parmesan cheese and tossed fettuccine pasta and butter. As it is cooked, the melting Parmesan emulsifies the liquids and forms a rich coating on the pasta. The dish was named by Alfredo Di Lelio, an Italian restaurateur in Rome in 1914. Although pasta dishes with butter and cheese are common, the name of Fettuccine Alfredo is not known in mainstream Italian culinary circles. The US variation of this pasta includes a combination of other ingredients such as broccoli, parsley, cream, garlic, shrimp, or chicken.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
“Pasta doesn’t make you fat. How much pasta you eat makes you fat.”
– Giada De Laurentiis
A plate of warm Spaghetti pasta, with a golden eggy sauce, freshly grated cheese, and peppered with bits of cured pork. Such is classic Spaghetti alla Carbonara. It is typical Italian peasant dish with humble beginnings.
It is commonly thought of as a typical Roman dish and that the name came from a dish made in the Appenine Mountains of the Abruzzo by woodcutters. These men would cook the dishes over a hardwood charcoal fire, using penne instead of spaghetti since it would be easier to toss with cheese and eggs.
There is also another tale that claims food shortages in 1944 after the liberation of Rome was so bad that Allied troops had food rations that were made of powdered eggs and bacon, and the locals used this to spice up dried pasta that had been stored. Then there is the story that the dish was formerly cooked with black squid ink, hence getting its name since it was black as coal. Finally there is the belief the dish had always existed and was always a basic family staple.
‘Give us this day our daily taste. Restore to us soups that spoons will not sink in and sauces which are never the same twice. Raise up among us stews with more gravy than we have bread to blot it with Give us pasta with a hundred fillings.”
- Robert Farrar Capon
This wide flat pasta is perhaps one of the oldest of its kind. Lasagna pertains to a dish made with this wide flat pasta, using several layers, alternating with different ingredients and sauces. These would include ricotta, tomato sauce, ground beef or pork and sometimes spinach. It is oven baked. Cooks will often spice with garlic, oregano and onion, and flavor with wine. Historically it is said the dough was sourced and prepared in Southern Italy. Semolina and water was used and in the northern regions, where semolina was not available, they used flour and eggs instead. Today in Italy commercially available lasagna noodles are made of semolina.
There you have it. 5 easy and the most loved pasta dishes familiar around the world (along with some words of “pasta-isms”).