We celebrate the magic of pasta every day at Pastini, but we thought National Noodle Month would be a fitting occasion to delve deeper into the shapes and history of the noble noodle. Did you know there are about 300 different types of pasta in Italy? And while regional names are the only distinction for many pasta varieties, and only about 60 are commonly used now, it’s a testament to a true national obsession with this elegantly simple food.
And simple is the word… pasta is made from just flour and water (fresh pasta also has eggs), the most basic of foods, originally invented by those who couldn’t afford meat and other more expensive ingredients. However, Italians have added their own special ingenuity to this simple dish, and made almost 300 variations of size and shape. String pastas like spaghetti and fettuccini are made from sheets of dough, cut into long noodles,in fact, ‘spaghetti’ means ‘little strings’. Extruded pastas like penne (‘quills’) and farfalle (‘butterflies’) are made with machines called extruders that push the dough through brass dies to make their unique shapes.
Different shapes work better with different sauces, and when you visit Pastini you’ll see we have thoughtfully paired pastas and sauces by consulting traditional and classic recipes. More substantial pastas are often matched with rich sauces, like Fettuccini Alfredo or Rigatoni Bolognese, and lighter pastas go well with delicate sauces, like Capellini Pomodoro or Linguini Misto Mare. Seafood dishes and pesto sauces are usually made with linguini (‘little tongues’), the pasta from coastal Liguria where pesto originated. Filled pastas like tortellini and ravioli were traditionally fare for the wealthy or special occasions, since they are stuffed with meats and cheeses. They can stand up to hearty, rich sauces like our Tortellini Gorgonzola, or be the star of a dish…think Butternut Squash-Gorgonzola Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter.
Finally there are pastini, the family of tiny pastas like orzo, stars and alphabets, commonly used in soups or given to children with a little butter and cheese. We thought it was the perfect name for our restaurant!
Stay safe and eat well,