Template:Cuisine The English word pasta generally refers to noodles and other food products made from a flour and water paste, often including also egg and salt. Less frequently, the term macaroni is used for the same products.

Pasta can also denote dishes in which pasta products are the primary ingredient, served with sauce or seasonings. The word comes from Italian pasta which means basically "paste", and by extension "dough", "pasta", or "pastry" as in "small cake". As recently as 1918 the English word "paste" was used instead of or alongside the Italian pasta[1] ( Today the word "pasta" is reserved for Italian-style noodles in English-speaking countries, while the word "noodle" has a more general meaning.

Dried Italian-style pasta is made from durum wheat semolina or flour, which gives it a light yellow color. Asian-style noodles as well as most fresh noodles are made from regular (non-durum) wheat flour. Some pasta varieties, such as Pizzoccheri, are made from buckwheat flour.

Gnocchi are often listed among pasta dishes, although they are quite different in ingredients (mainly mashed potatoes) and mode of preparation.

Pasta is made either by extrusion, where the ingredients are forced through holes in a plate known as a die, or by lamination, in which dough is kneaded, folded, rolled to thickness, then cut by slitters. Fresh Pasta cooks quickly and has a delicate taste, but spoils quickly due to its high water content. Dry Pasta generally contains about 7% moisture, which makes it shelf stable for about a year.



Pasta was developed independently in a number of places around the globe (though some anthropologists dispute this). In each of these places, the local grain was the primary starch in the diet. Grains are normally consumed as a gruel or grain paste. Pasta noodles were developed as an alternative to a gruel or bread. Pasta noodles can be created in places where there is no oven, nor enough fuel to support an oven. In contrast, bread requires a great investment in time and effort to create. Any place you can have something dry, you can have pasta noodles.

The earliest known records of noodles in Europe are found on Etruscan tomb decorations from the 4th century BC. Utensils which are thought to have been used to make pasta were also found in the ruins of 79 AD Pompeii. It is often (incorrectly) stated that Marco Polo introduced pasta to the West when he brought noodles to Italy from China, but pasta was known in Europe for many centuries before his voyage.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with bringing the first macaroni machine to America in 1789 when he returned home after serving as ambassador to France.


Common pasta sauces include pesto (a green sauce, usually from oil and basil), marinara (a red tomato-based sauce), alfredo (a white cream sauce), bolognese (a ground beef sauce) and amatriciana (a red tomato/wine based sauce, usualy including onion and bacon strips).

In Italy, pasta with sauce (sugo) is often called "pastasciutta" ("asciutta" means "dry," indicating that the pasta is not served in broth).

Pasta varieties

The only basic difference between these names is the shape of the pasta. The most common varieties are in bold.

Missing image
Some different colours and shapes of pasta, in a pasta specialty store in Venice.

Shaped Pasta

Tubular Pasta

Strand Noodles

  • Angel Hair - thinner than vermicelli, thicker than capellini
  • Barbina - thin strands often coiled into nests
  • Capellini - even thinner than angel hair; thinnest spaghetti-like noodle
  • Chitarra - similar to spaghetti, except square rather than round
  • Ciriole - thicker version of chitarra
  • Fedelini - thinner than spaghettini, thicker than vermicelloni
  • Fusilli lunghi - very long fusilli
  • Spaghetti - long, round, and thin. Thinner than spaghettoni, thicker than spaghettini
  • Spaghettini - thinner than spaghetti, thicker than fedelini
  • Spaghettoni - thicker than spaghetti
  • Strangozzi - square in cross section
  • Vermicelli - thinner than vermicelloni, thicker than angel hair
  • Vermicelloni - thinner than fedelini, thicker than vermicelli

Ribbon Pasta Noodles

Micro Pasta

Stuffed Pasta

Commercial Pasta

See also

External links


de:Pasta fr:Ptes alimentaires nl:Pasta ja:パスタ sl:Testenine sv:Pasta zh:意式面食


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