Pasta is a common Italian cuisine. It originated from the Italian culture and has spread throughout the countries of the world. What most people do not know is that pasta is made from wheat flour. Pasta is typically made from the unleavened dough of wheat flour. The ingredients used in pasta production are wheat flour, egg, salt and water. The type of wheat used to produce pasta is called durum wheat.
Pasta is divided in 2 broad groups called dried pasta and fresh pasta.
- Dried Pasta
The dried pasta is usually the one manufactured in factories. It is made using wheat flour, egg and water. Vegetable juices, herbs or spices can also be added to impact colour and flavour. The wheat flour is mixed with warm water and the dough is kneaded mechanically until it becomes firm and dry. The additional ingredients like the vegetable juices and spices are added after kneading. The dough is then passed into the laminator to be flattened into sheets. After flattening, it is compressed by a vacuum mixer machine to clear out excess water and air bubbles from the dough until the moisture content is reduced to 12%. The dough is processed in a steamer to kill any bacteria present in it. The dough is then shaped into different types of pasta. The dough can be cut or extruded depending on the type of pasta to be made. The pasta is set in a drying tank under specific conditions of heat, moisture and time; all this will depend on the pasta type. After drying, the pasta is then packaged for sale.
- Fresh Pasta
Fresh pasta is traditionally produced by hand and in some cases simple machines are used. To produce fresh pasta, wheat flour, egg, salt and water are used. The flour is molded on a flat surface and a well is created in the pile of flour. The egg is poured into the well and a fork is used to mix them together. The fresh pasta type can be shaped in different ways depending on the type of pasta required. Popular types include; spaghetti, macaroni and penne. Cooks who make large amounts of fresh pasta can make use of pasta makers. The pasta dough is feed into the machine by hand, and by turning a hand crank, the pasta is turned into thin rolls. As it emerges, the pasta is directed through a machine comb to give it the shape required.
Gluten-Free Pasta: It is widely known that wheat flour contains some amount of gluten. So for gluten intolerant people, pasta can be produced from a variety of gluten-free sources which include; rice, corn, oat and quinoa. Gluten-free pasta can also be made with ingredients like hydrocolloids which help improve the high heat resistance of cooking pasta, xanthan gum which will retain the moisture of the pasta during storage and hydrothermally-treated polysaccharide mixture which produces a pasta texture that is similar to that of wheat pasta.
Pasta has a lower glycemic index than many other staple carbohydrate foods like bread and rice which makes it a good choice if you want to reduce your calorie intake. When cooked, plain pasta is composed of 62% water, 31% carbohydrate, 6% protein and 1% fat. Cooked pasta provides a good amount of your daily calorie need and a moderate level of manganese and few other micro nutrients.
Pasta is normally served with some type of sauce. Pasta can be served with tomato sauce and also white sauce. Pasto can also be served with a Bolognese sauce which incorporates a small amount of tomato concentrate and a green sauce called pesto. Southern Italy pairs pasta with more complex food varieties like fresh vegetables, olives or seafood. Pasta is also served with baked cheese, sardines, fennel, pine nuts, garlic and hot chilli pepper.