My first date with Pasta. I can remember the first Pasta I had tasted was Spaghetti Bolognese when I was pursuing my hotel mgt. degree from NSHM College, Durgapur.

It was the practical class and the attendance was at high end because today we were going to have pasta. Still those anthologies are remaining in me.  For me Pasta is a magic and one can do a lot with pasta.Let us understand the terminology of pasta, who wants to eat something trendy.


Pasta is a staple  Italian food made from an unleaveaned dough of durum wheat mixed with water or eggs; it can be flavored with different vegetable purees, herbs, etc. to make different shapes, stuffed or unstuffed. Cooked by boiling till al-dente, or baked.

The word Pasta comes from the Latin word “PASTOS” which means dough. Pasta is believed to be introduced by the known traveler Marco Polo, who saw it in China in the form of noodles. Though it is traditionally made with durum wheat, variations can also be done with other flour such as whole wheat flour, rye flour, buckwheat, or all-purpose flour.

There are two major varieties of pasta; dried or fresh

Dried pasta is commercially produced & fresh pasta can be prepared at home or procured commercially. Fresh pasta is delicate and highly perishable should be used within 48 hours.


It is very easy to cook pasta. Pasta should cook till al-dente (ready to eat).  The pasta whether dried or fresh needs to be boiled. The cooking time of pasta depends upon the shape and the type of flour.  For fresh pasta, one should rely on the touch and feel of the pasta. Fresh pasta only takes about 2-3 minutes to get cooked. It is a good idea to boil the pasta and drain out the water and then coat with olive oil. If pre-boiled pasta is using, it is necessary to refresh in hot water for a few minutes.


  1. Use a large stainless steel pan with handles and a large quantity of water. If there is not enough quantity of water, the pasta will stick together.
  2. Before adding the pasta, bring the water to a fast-rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt in water. Salt decrease cooking time. When the water bubbles furiously, add the pasta. Make sure the pasta is completely submerged in the water. Stir once with a wooden spoon & cover the pan. Reduced the temperature. And let the water boil gently.
  3. Stir the pasta frequently while cooking to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  4. Check the doneness of pasta. Pasta should be al dente.
  5. Drain carefully. Shake the draining pan and stir the pasta well so that all the water drain out as quickly as possible. Coat olive oil thoroughly in pasta to prevent sticking together.

Common types of PASTA:


Penne: Penne means “feather or quill pen”.  It is hollow tubes and their ends are cut diagonally. Because of their unique and interesting shape, they go well with virtually every sauce and are particularly good with a chunky sauce.

Conchiglie: These shapes resemble small conch shells. Sometimes they are rigid, in which they are called conchiglie rigate. This is very popular and available in different colors and flavors. They are one of the most useful small shapes because they trap virtually any sauce.

Farfalle: It means “butterflies”, but these shapes are also described as bow – ties. Farfalle can be served with almost any sauce, but particularly good with cream and tomato sauce.

Fusilli: These spirals of thin pasta look like tight coils and are formed by winding fresh dough around a thin rod.  The shapes go well with a thin sauce.

Maccheroni: English word is Macaroni. It is short curved hollow tubular pasta that is generally used for sauce and baked dishes.

Pipe: These shapes look like a cross between conchiglie and lumache. They are curved and hollow and small.

Rigatoni: These are ridged, hollow, chunky looking shapes. They are popular because they are sturdy enough to hold substantial sauces. The short version of Rigatoni called mezzi rigatoni and straight stubby version called millergihe.  Similar in shape but slightly narrower are elicoidali, which have a curved ridge.

Orecchiette: Its unique shape of a small disc with a bulge in the Centre resembles a small ear thus the name.

Rotelle: These are cartwheel shapes, rigid variety, rotelle rigate, and sometimes these shapes goes under other names such as route, route di Carro and trulli.


Spaghetti: Dried long pasta in the form of spaghetti is probably well-known pasta.  It comes from the word “Spago”, which means string. Long Italian Spaghetti is graded by number according to its thickness. It goes well with many different kinds of sauces.

Tagliatelle: The most common form of ribbon noodle, Tagliatelle are usually about 8 to 10mm wide. This pasta comes from the Bologna region.  It is available in solid coiled in nests, which unravel during cooking.

Ziti: The word comes from “Zita” –fiancée.  It was traditional in southern Italy to serve Ziti at wedding feasts. It is very long, thick and hollow goes well with chunky sauces

Fettucine: This pasta is flat ribbons and always sold coiled into loose nests. Fettucine is similar to Tagliatelle but narrower.

Pappardelle: These are broad ribbon noodles with wavy edges that come from Tuscan. They are good with meat and good sauce

Linguine: It means “little tongues” and describes the very thin Spaghetti-like pasta that has flattened edges. Good serve with smooth tomato sauces as they are popular in Italy.


Lasagne: This comes in a flat-packed box. The shape varies according to the manufacturer, ranging from narrow or broad, rectangles to squares. Most sheets are completely flat, but some are wavy all over.

Fresh pasta

There is another range of pasta that is very popular at the dinner table. These are hand-rolled, stuffed, and covered with another sheet of pasta and cut into various shapes. The fillings can range from vegetables such as spinach, artichokes, and mushroom to cheese and fish and shellfish and minced veal and chicken from meat.

Ravioli: These are usually square with fluted edges, but size and shape can vary.  It is made by rolling out a sheet of pasta and placing the filling on it equal intervals. The dough is then brushed with egg and filling mixture (the fillings can be anything). while another sheet is placed on top. Thereafter, it is cut into a shape and the edges are pinched with a fork to seal the filling.

Cappelletti: The name comes from the Italian word meaning “little hats”.  It is hat-shaped pasta that is made by cutting out round disc shapes from a pasta sheet. After filling, it is folded and then the edges are joined together to resemble a hat.

Agnolotti: It is small rectangular square shaped stuffed pasta, Filling is placed at equal intervals and the sheet is folded into half in such a way that a ribbon is obtained with a filling inside.  Now the pasta is cut into rectangular shapes and the three cut sides are pinched to secure the filling inside.

Pansoti: This word means “chubby”, and they are triangular in shape with little potbellies of filling in the Centre. The triangular-shaped pasta is made by rolling the pasta sheets and then cutting it into desired shapes. After filling in the Centre, the sheet is folded along the diagonal to form a triangle inside. The edges are pinched to secure the filling. Traditionally chopped cooked spinach, eggs, and pecorino cheese use as filling and serve with a walnut cream sauce.

Tortellini: These are often folded into the half after filling and the edges pulled together and joined to resemble the shape of a naval.  Tortellini is a specialty from the city of Romagna and the traditional filling is minced meat and prosciutto.


Penne all’ Arabiata, Fettucine all’ Alfredo, Spaghetti Bolognese are all classic recipes.  However, there are no rigid rules and common sense usually prevails. Heavy sauces with large chunks of meat are unlikely to go well with thin types of pasta. In south Italy, olive oil is used for cooking pasta, so the sauce tends to be made with olive oil and they are usually served with the pasta.  The long thin shapes are traditionally served with tomato and seafood sauces.  In the north, butter and cream are used in sauces. This sauce goes well with fresh egg pasta, which absorbs the butter and cream. Rich butter and cream also go well with a tomato sauce when these are served with short pasta. Grated cheese is often tossed with pasta and sauce at the last moment, as well as being served separately on the table.

Some common pasta sauces:

Napolitana: It is also known as sauce de Pomodoro.  It is made from fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes are blanched and the skin is removed, deseed, and chopped to obtain tomato concasse. In a pan, heat olive oil and sauté chopped onions, garlic, carrot, and celery. Now add concasse and cook until a thick sauce is obtained.

Arabiata: Same as Napolitana sauce but need to add chili flakes.

 Puttanesca: Same as Napolitana sauce but sauce need to toss with  capers, sliced olives, and anchovy fillets

Amatriciana: This sauce is prepared by rendering bacon with Napolitana sauce. The smoky flavor added by the bacon is peculiar to this sauce.

Carbonara: An emulsified sauce prepared by heating a liaison of cream, egg yolks, and parmesan cheese. This sauce tied up well with flat pasta.

Alfredo: This sauce made by combining cream and butter and bringing to boil. Usually, mushrooms and diced ham are also added to Alfredo. Topped with Parmesan cheese.

Pesto: It is the green paste of basil, parsley, Parmesan cheese. pine nuts, salt, and black pepper.


International Cuisine & Food Production Management – Parvinder S. Bali

The World Encyclopedia of Cooking Ingredients – Christine Ingram



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