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Pasta during Spring and Father’s Day

Pasta during Spring and Father's Day

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a civil recurrence that is celebrated all over the world, even if on different dates. In countries of Catholic tradition, this feast is associated with St. Joseph, protector of the family fathers, and is therefore celebrated on March 19th. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, Father’s Day is held on the third Sunday of June. Whatever day is celebrated, this feast is very heartfelt: Children generally prepare something to give to their dad and a good idea would be to have them participate in the preparation of a nice dinner in his honor!

Some tips for super pasta dishes!

Pasta during Spring and Father’s Day? The typical menus for the Father’s Day are different according to the geographical areas. In many areas of our peninsula, we eat pasta and chickpeas, a dish typical of rural tradition, poor but rich in flavor. Lasagna is also very widespread, both in the classic version with ragù, as well as green, and cannelloni stuffed with ricotta and spinach. Other recipes made for this day are pasta in the oven and the tasty and creamy macaroni with cheese.

First dishes in Spring

Pasta during Spring and Father’s Day? Father’s Day also coincides with the arrival of the Spring season, so there are numerous recipes for first courses that can be made with typical seasonal products. Zucchini, asparagus, turnip greens, fava beans are just some of the ingredients that can enrich our pasta dishes. Therefore, from traditional orecchiette to turnip tops, pasta cooked with zucchini or asparagus sauces, or soups with broad beans or peas: You’ll be spoiled for choice!

 

Carnival and tradition with pasta

Carnival and tradition with pasta

The Carnival

The carnival is a very popular festival loved by both adults and children, and is characterized by costumes, masks, and parades in the streets. It is linked to the Christian tradition, like the etymology of the name says. In fact, it is thought that it derives from the Latin carnem levare (“eliminate the meat”) in reference to the banquet held on Shrove Tuesday, the last day of Carnival, before the fasting period starts. At culinary level, there are many typical sweets that characterized the carnival period. However, we will focus on Carnival and tradition with pasta.

Some first courses related to the Carnival

The first dishes related to the Carnival are rich and often composed of fat and tasty ingredients. In addition to the Neapolitan Carnival lasagne, there are other typical dishes. One of them is the bucatini omelette, a first plate “masked” as second, easy to prepare and very nutritious. Another dish is colored pasta, inspired by Arlecchino’s dress: It has a tasty flavor and is extremely “scenic”.

Neapolitan Carnival lasagna

In Naples during this time, especially for Shrove Tuesday, you can enjoy a first course that has become a real institution, the Carnival lasagna. This differs from the Bolognese lasagna, first because of the pasta, made only of durum wheat flour and without eggs. The condiment is also different, the Neapolitan one, in fact, is richer: the meat sauce is enriched with brains (typical Neapolitan sausage), fried meatballs, hard-boiled eggs, fior di latte, ricotta and parmesan or pecorino. Several layers are formed (at least 5-7) in which the dressing is distributed uniformly. Each family has then its own recipe that presents small variations to the “classic” preparation.

 

 

A new year and a new types of pasta

A new year and a new types of pasta

Tradition and innovation

Pasta is one of the most important foods in the diet of Italians. Despite being a traditional product, pasta continues to have a central role for the inhabitants of our country thanks to its ability to interpret trends, changes in lifestyles and in taste. Every year, Italian pasta makers invest about 500 million euros in research, development, and innovation with the aim of improving the quality and taste of pasta and in order to respond to the high expectations of consumers, who demand new ingredients and new types of pasta every year. What should we expect from 2019 then?

“New” flours

The new year and the new types of pasta can mean creating a product using alternative flours, and not only the traditional durum wheat. In fact, according to some recent surveys, Italians – especially the younger ones – are increasingly interested in the pasta produced with protein flour, for example those based on legumes, which are no longer a simple addition, but become protagonists of the dough giving the pasta a different taste and also different nutritional values. In addition, the demand for wholemeal pasta is growing, perhaps due to the health needs of integrating fiber into one’s diet. Finally, the traditional pasta with a vegetable enriched dough (such as carrots, spinach or pumpkin) becomes more and more important.

New shapes

The new year and the new types of pasta can also be declined with the innovation in the design of the shapes. They are normally related to the territory, culture, production techniques, and especially to the imagination of the pasta makers. The shapes are important because they determine the consistency and the time of cooking of the pasta. However, thanks to technology and – as always – to the intelligence of the pasta professionals, new shapes of pasta are always found (long, short, striped, smooth, thin …).

Christmas and typical pastas

Christmas and typical pastas

The festival of traditions

Christmas is one of the holidays in which traditions, often very ancient, are followed. The kitchen is an excellent example of how traditions survive over time, thanks to the fact that gastronomy is a fundamental component of our culture. In Italy, dishes and traditions vary from region to region: for example in the North, we tend to celebrate with lunch on December 25th, while in the South with the Christmas Eve (generally based on fish). Below, we give you an overview of Christmas and typical pastas.

In North and Central Italy

What joins the dishes of the North and Central Italy are stuffed pasta and pasta in broth. In Piedmont, for example, you can not miss the agnolotti del plin, squares of stuffed pasta seasoned with a sauce of meat and vegetables. In Mantua, we eat pumpkin tortelli, which are prepared on Christmas Eve, in Bergamo the casoncelli in brodo. Also in broth are cooked tortellini or passatelli, typical of Emilia Romagna and cappelletti in the Marche. In this region, the Campofilone maccheroncini are also widespread.

In South Italy

We end our overview on Christmas time and the typical pastas with some typical dishes of the South and the islands. Here too, the tradition of many regions includes the preparation of pasta cooked in broth or in soups, often based on fish, or dry pasta dishes, always served with sauces with fish (such as pasta with sardines in Sicily or spaghetti with bread crumbs and anchovies in Calabria). In Sardinia the mallareddus, semolina gnocchetti with sausage sauce, and the culargiones, ravioli stuffed with tomato sauce, are unmissable.

 

 

Do you know the difference between cappelletti and tortellini?

Difference between tortellini and cappelletti

Traditional filled pasta

We have spoken several times about the variety of pasta in each Italian region. Today, we want to focus on two types of filled pasta very similar, nut also very different: tortellini and cappelletti. Both are typical winter dishes of the Italian tradition and, as such, are considered real cultural plates. Although they look very much alike, it is good not to confuse them. So … do you know the difference between cappelletti and tortellini?

The analogies

Both tortellini and cappelletti, as already mentioned, are two types of filled pasta. They are obtained with a thin egg dough, they are eaten in broth and, of course, they are both delicious! They are a typical pasta shape of Emilia-Romagna, although tortellini are more characteristic of the area of Bologna and Modena, while cappelletti are widespread in Romagna (and also in the Marche). The analogies stop here. Let’s see now the difference between cappelletti and tortellini.

The differences

The first big difference lies in the filling: that of tortellini follows a recipe, which includes pork loin, Bologna mortadella, raw ham, Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs and nutmeg, while that of cappelletti is prepared with minced beef or pork, eggs, vegetables and cheeses (the use of all these ingredients or only some of them varies according to the area).

A second difference is in size and shape: tortellini are smaller and their shape is linked to a legend about an innkeeper from Castelfranco Emilia who, peeking from the keyhole a naked woman guest in his inn, was so fascinated by the beauty of her navel that he wanted to reproduce it. Cappelletti, on the other hand, are a little larger and have a more rounded shape that resembles a hat that was worn during the Middle Ages (and for this reason the name).

 

 

 

Cold and pasta

Cold and pasta

Face the Autumn with good nutrition

And here comes the Autumn! And with it the rain, the shorter and darker days, the bad weather … and of course, the cold! Not only heavier and warmer clothing help fight the cold, but even a good nutrition does it. Legumes, cereals, meat, seasonal fruit and vegetables, dried fruits are all excellent anti-cold foods, because they provide a fair amount of calories and energy to our metabolism, which must produce more heat.

Why do we feel cold?

Our biological thermometer is regulated by some thermoreceptors on the skin. These are microscopic sensors that detect both heat and cold and help to keep the body temperature more or less constant by dispersing heat if it is hot or encouraging its production if it is cold. In this second case, it is good to choose hot food, which is transformed into heat and allows an increase in temperature.

Pasta when is cold? This is a healthy method to provide energy to our body.

Warm and nutritious dishes

Cereals, and therefore also pasta, are a good remedy to face the cold. They are an excellent source of fiber, which helps the body to warm up without weighing it too much.

How to combine cold and pasta then? An excellent remedy is the soup of cereals and legumes: pasta and beans, pasta and chickpeas, pasta and lentils, and so on. An alternative to soups is to prepare a good vegetable soup with pasta inside.

If you prefer a plate of pasta, it is better to dress it with sauces based on vegetables, likr broccoli, rich in vitamin C (which stimulates the immune system), but you can also use other vegetables like peppers, cauliflower, artichokes, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes.

 

 

 

World Pasta Day

World pasta day

A day dedicated to pasta

On October 25th 2018, the twentieth edition of the World Pasta Day will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The event, organized by the International Pasta Organization and AIDEPI (Association of the Italian Sweet and Pasta Industries) is held every year in a different place in the world. The event aims to promote pasta, which is the base of the Mediterranean diet (which has been recognized as a UNESCO heritage), with speeches held by experts about the scientific, technological, economic, cultural and gastronomic aspects of this food.

Every year is celebrated in a different place

The first World Pasta Day was held in Naples in 1998. Since then, producers, representatives of the scientific and gastronomic community, and journalists meet every year in a different “capital of pasta” in order to celebrate the important role this food plays in nurturing the world as well as its ability to adapt to every culture. The World Pasta Day was held several times in Italy, considered the nation-symbol of this food, but also in many cities that are not immediately associated with pasta: Barcelona, Mexico City, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, New York, San Paul. This year, pasta will be presented as a food of the future, combining conviviality and taste with an approach of well-being and sustainability.

How to celebrate the world pasta day?

How to celebrate the World Pasta Day if not with eating a plate of pasta? Cook your favourite pasta shape with the sauce you love the most. Or you can  also organize a party dedicated to pasta, where each participant should bring his favorite pasta dish, so you can exchange new recipes. You can try to cook pasta dishes typical of different cultures, so as to discover new flavors and maybe find a new favorite dish! Whatever way you decide to celebrate this day, the important thing is to spread love for pasta all over the world.

 

 

 

 

 

The return to work and pasta

The return to work and pasta

September, the month of the resuming of the routine

September is perceived as the month of the end of the holidays: In fact, most of the people return to work and young people go back to school. In short, September is the month of the resuming of the daily routine! And often going back to work is really very tiring and difficult.

What to do in order to face the return? Can pasta relieve stress? Here are some tips in this sense.

How to cope with post-vacation stress

When we are on vacation, we get used to different rhythms compared to daily routine: we manage freely our time, we are more in open air and we live different experiences. For this reason, many people, when returning to work accuse the so-called post-vacation stress, or a general malaise characterized by a feeling of unease, exhaustion, anxiety and nervousness. Here are some tips to face post-vacation stress.

 

  • Try to resume work gradually, organizing it by setting daily goals in order not to stress immediately.
  • Stay in the sun as much as possible, perhaps by taking an outdoor lunch break: Why not eat a good plate of pasta while sitting in a park instead of staying in the office?
  • Follow a proper diet, eating simple and complex carbohydrates (like pasta!), because our brain needs sugar.
  • Doing sports or walking helps to eliminate stress.
  • Organize weekend getaways … this lets you feel like you are still on holiday!

Coming back pasta

When you start working again, it is good to eat light lunches. A good plate of pasta helps in this sense. You can cook it at home or you order it in a restaurant or bar, either the case, pasta is an excellent food to face the return to work, also because our brain needs carbohydrates.

Choose the type of pasta you like (from semolina, wholemeal, corn, rice …) and season it with light condiments based on vegetables, and avoid the most complex sauces. Since the weather can still be warm, you can also eat a plate of cold pasta.

These are just some tips. Each of us can find many tasty recipes for the “coming back pasta”.

 

Dough, the differences

Dough

Not just durum wheat and water

The ingredients for making the “basic” dough of pasta are really few: durum wheat semolina flour, water and salt. However, today there are many variations that can be applied to this “basic” dough: for example, you can use special flours instead of semolina or wheat semolina. Another variation is whether to add eggs to the dough or not. Let’s see some differences of the dough.

Durum wheat and soft wheat semolina

Durum wheat semolina is the basic ingredient for dry pasta. This type of flour is used instead of soft wheat, because the durum wheat has a grain that does not break easily; therefore, even the flour is more “tenacious”. The mixture obtained is less extensible, but more suitable for the production of pasta, also because it allows better preservation and a better seal during cooking.

At home, pasta can be made either with durum wheat flour or with soft wheat flour, to which eggs or water will be added in order to obtain a more malleable dough (it depends also if you want to make a egg pasta or not).

Some variations in the dough

In addition to “normal” dough based on durum or soft wheat flour, water and / or eggs, “special” doughs can be obtained by differently dosing the ingredients or directly using different ingredients. Let’s see some differences in the dough.

If you want to obtain a more “rustic” pasta, you can use the whole flour in the dough always combined with water (and also eggs, if desired). Possibly, the wholemeal flour can also be mixed with wheat flour. The dough based on wholemeal flour is not suitable for small-sized stuffed pasta (such as tortellini), while it is excellent for tortelli and tortelloni.

A variant for egg pasta can be made by using only egg yolks in the dough, instead of the whole egg. In this case, the pasta takes on a more intense color. This type of pasta is more caloric and nutritious and is also suitable for stuffed pasta.

 

 

 

Holidays and pasta

Holidays and pasta

Italy, the country of food excellence

August begins and for many Italians begin also the summer holidays. In recent years, the number of tourists, both Italian and foreign, visiting our country for its food and wine offer is increasing. In Italy, the culinary excellences are certainly not lacking: each region has its own specialties to which an excellent wine is combined. Below, we give you some tips on first courses to enjoy in Summer in various areas of our peninsula (islands included!).

A first course tour of Italy

Holidays and pasta: here is a small tour based on typical dishes of our regions.

Starting from the North, it is impossible not to taste the famous Piedmontese tajarin or agnolotti, generally served with meat sauces. In Lombardy, you can taste casoncelli, in Veneto bigoli seasoned with sauces with vegetables. If you stay in Liguria, you should not miss trofie with the typical Genoese pesto, while in Emilia-Romagna lasagna or tortellini are inevitable.

In Tuscany, pici all’aglione are typical, while in Umbria we find strangozzi seasoned with a simple tomato sauce. Cappelletti, spaghetti alla chitarra and cavatelli can be tasted in the Marche, Abruzzo and Molise. Many are the typical dishes of Lazio: spaghetti all’amatriciana, alla gricia, cheese and pepper, and the ever present carbonara.

In the South, orecchiette with turnip tops are typical in Puglia, while in Campania you can eat pasta with scarpariello. In Sicily pasta alla norma is excellent, while in Sardinia, you should not miss a good plate of gnocchetti!

Cold pasta

Without a doubt the combination of “holidays and pasta” for Italians also translates into cold pasta. It is impossible to give up a tasty plate of pasta during the Summer (unless you go abroad), and with the arrival of the heat, it is good to adapt … eating it cold, indeed! You can use all types of pasta (including wholemeal, kamut, rice, corn …) and you can dress it as you like: with vegetables, fish, cheese. The cold pasta is a great dish that makes us enjoy the warm days of August and is also very “practical”: in fact, you can take it with you, if you decide to spend a day on the beach or to do a nice picnic in the mountains … it is just enough to bring a cool bag!

 

 

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