Oct 07, 2019

Let’s Dish: Let’s Talk about Pasta

By MaryAnn Miano

Ah, pasta…possibly the most brilliant invention known to man (well, to foodies, at least!). Deliciously nutritious, quick to prepare, extremely satisfying to the taste buds (and tummy), and economical, too, pasta is everyone’s “go-to” food when you’re plumb out of cooking ideas. A good pasta dish becomes one with its best friend: the sauce, along with many herbs and flavorings to enhance its deliciousness.

October is National Pasta Month, with Thursday, Oct. 17 recognized as National Pasta Day. So pasta lovers, celebrate! But first, a bit of history: Pasta evolved from its earliest Roman Empire days where the dough was first baked to boiling the dough directly in liquid in later periods. Pasta then developed into many different shapes and sizes across the regions of Italy, and stuffed pastas appeared during the Middle Ages, with the 13th century popularity of ravioli.

Lots of people still believe Marco Polo brought dried pasta to Italy, but the evidence disproves it.  History indicates that while Marco Polo was still in the East in 1279, a Genoese notary made an inventory of belongings by his client Ponzio Bastone, including a chest full of “maccheroni” – dried pasta rather than fresh. Polo did, in fact, bring some pasta back from Java and mentioned it was “similar to our own lasagna.”

By the 14th and 15th centuries, pasta was a fairly common dish. It was the tomato that changed pasta’s life during the 17th and 18th century – hello, tomato sauce! Italian migration spread pasta’s fame to other parts of the world, and Thomas Jefferson brought back a pasta press to America from his visit to Italy.

There is no limit to pasta’s versatility and popularity. Our recipe of the month will feature a homemade dough recipe and an easy, healthy pasta dish to get you started for your celebration of National Pasta Month.

 

FRESH PASTA DOUGH

Ingredients:

1 egg, beaten

½ tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 ½ tbsp. water

½ tbsp. olive oil

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the slightly beaten egg. Gently mix together. Mixture should for a stiff dough. If needed, stir in 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons water plus ½ tablespoons olive oil.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 3 to 4 minutes. After kneading, cover dough in plastic wrap and let rest for about 30 minutes.
  3. With a pasta machine or by hand, roll dough out to desired thinness. Use machine or knife to cut into strips of desired width.

 

EASY PASTA RECIPE

Ingredients:

1lb. spaghetti (commercial or fresh recipe, above), cooked

5 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

½ lb. black olives, coarsely chopped

Parsley

(Capers, pepper, breadcrumbs, optional)

 

Directions:

Heat the oil and add the finely chopped garlic. Before it starts to brown, add the coarsely chopped olives and a good handful of chopped parsley. Cook for a few more minutes and then serve with the hot pasta.

 

Variations:

  1. Add a tablespoon of capers with the olives
  2. Serve freshly ground black pepper with the sauce.
  3. Add some breadcrumbs browned in a little olive oil to the finished sauce.