Lunch in an Italian bistro is simply not complete without a delicious plate of spinach lasagna or spaghetti bolognese. Pasta is one of best things to come out of Italy. Although it is renowned to be an Italian specialty, its origins are still debated. There are some suggestions that say pasta originated from China and North Africa. Until today, it is still unclear where this wheat-based wonder was born.
Although the origin of pasta is unclear until today, it cannot be denied that the art of pasta making has been mastered by the Italians. Italians even have a law stating dry pasta can only be made with the durum wheat flour or semolina. This is to assure that all the different types of pasta they make are of the highest caliber.
The Italians made pasta making an art. They made it so complex that every part of the dish has so many variations. They have created hundreds of pasta types, all of which vary based on the noodle, the sauce and the way it was cooked.
Italian noodles can be categorized into four: Long pasta, short pasta, minute pasta and pasta al forno. The long and short variants are the most common ones. Long pastas include spaghetti, vermicelli and linguine (flat pasta) and short pastas include Farfalle (butterfly-shaped), Rotini
(spiral) and conchigle (shell-shaped). Minute pastas are the ones used in soups, like the stelline (star-shaped) and quadretti (square). Al fornos are the ones firm enough for baking, like the lasagna and the ziti.
The types of pasta also depend on the sauce used. The most popular ones are puttanesca, marinara, carbonara and alfredo. The latter two are dairy-based white sauces, while the former are tomato-based red sauces. An array of spices, seafood, meat and vegetables are also mixed into the sauce to give the dish more character.
Another factor that makes pasta diverse is how it's cooked. The only common rule in pasta making is to boil the noodles until firm, or as the Italians call it, al dente. Traditionally, one would mix the cooked sauce into the noodles. But one can certainly do whatever they want to the pasta they cook. Lasagna and ziti can be baked. Minute pastas are mixed with soups and are boiled together with the broth. And macaroni can be mixed with some salads. However the dish is made is basically up to your taste.
I hope you found this information helpful. A pasta recipe can be found at http://www.easy-pasta-recipes.net along with other tips on how to make pasta. You can also get an easy pasta dish when you get a free Italian recipe e-book upon registration.