Authentic And Traditional  Italian Food Recipes

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Plain And Filled Pasta

There are hundreds of different types of pasta and new shapes are being produced all the time. Basic pasta is made from hard durum wheat flour  and water, while pasta all'uova is enriched with eggs. Additional ingredients, such as spinach, tomatoes and squid ink, are used to flavour and colour it.

It is worth buying fresh pasta, called maccheroni, in Italy, if you have access to a good Italian delicatessen, and the stuffed varieties available in supermarkets are often quite good.

Otherwise, commercially available, fresh, unfilled pasta is not really any better than the dried variety. There is no definitive list of names and the same shape may be called different things in various regions.

Some have delightfully descriptive names: capelli d'angelo (angel's hair), dischi volante (flying saucers), linguine di passeri (sparrows' tongues) and strozzapreti (priest strangler), for example.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about which pasta should be served with which sauce.

As a guide, long, thin types of pasta, such as fettuccine, tagliatelle, spaghetti and taglioni, are best for delicate,olive-oil-based and seafood sauces.

Short, fat pasta shapes, such as lumache, conchiglie and penne, or curly shapes, such as farfalle and fusilli, are best for meat sauces, as they trap the pieces. Tomato-based sauces go with virtually any pasta shape. Tiny pasta shapes, such as stellete, Pepe bucato and risi, are used for soups.

Pasta may be stuffed with cheese, meat, fish, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and any number of other fillings.

Traditionally, ravioli are square, tortelli are round and tortelloni resemble the shape of Venus's navel! Flat pasta is used to make baked dishes, such as lasagne al forno.


These are rather like little dumplings and are served as a first course in a similar way to pasta, either in soup or with a sauce.

They are made from a variety of ingredients: milled durum wheat, potatoes, flour or spinach and ricotta. They are available from Italian delicatessens and are easy to make at home.