Linguini is sometimes given short shrift as spaghetti’s less well-known sibling, but it is as much of a pasta staple in Italy as its round relative. And, since we are featuring it in our summer special Linguini with Shrimp Scampi, we decided to take a closer look into the provenance of this noble noodle.
Linguini is a type of string pasta (as opposed to extruded pastas like ziti or fusilli) which is wider than spaghetti but not as wide as fettuccini. The name linguini (or linguine) means “little tongues” in Italian, a nod to its flat profile.
This pasta shape seems to have first appeared in 1700s. Giulio Giacchero, author of a book on the economy of Genoa in the 1700’s, writes about trenette (another name for linguini) served with pesto, green beans and potatoes. He says it was the typical festive dish of Ligurian families of the time. In those days of course, the pasta would have been made mostly by hand and most probably with eggs. But it’s interesting that linguini with pesto, beans and potatoes is still a popular dish in Liguria today.
Liguria is the coastal region in far northwest Italy on the Ligurian Sea, dominated by the ancient port of Genoa. Basil pesto is a traditional dish there, and is often called by its full name pesto alla Genovese. That is why pesto dishes are typically served over linguini, like we do here at Pastini. Linguini is also used extensively and often with seafood, like the classic dish Linguini Misto Mare, another influence from linguini’s coastal Ligurian roots.
Linguini pasta is loved throughout Italy and some recipes are eaten in practically every region of the Italian peninsula, particularly in coastal areas. One of my favorite Pastini dishes is Linguini Pesto Pollo, where we add chicken, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and a splash of cream to the traditional pesto, for a unique and delicious twist that I just love.
Join us this summer season for a classic linguini with pesto (a great, light warm weather pasta), our seasonal special or any one of our delicious recipes featuring linguini.