Pasta is a universal product that can be used to make a huge variety of meals. According to one of the versions, translated from Greek, the word “pasta” means “happiness”. This food contains specific amino acids that help to eliminate negative thoughts. Complex carbohydrates aid production of the hormone serotonin, which is responsible for positive emotions.
A number of countries cannot come to an agreement on the origin of pasta, especially China, Italy and the Arabic-speaking nations. Even though the symbol of pasta globally is Italy, it is also known that the food was brought to Europe from China by Marco Polo. This theory is supported by different Chinese scripts. However, tools for making dough products in a shape similar to that of certain types of pasta were found during the excavation of the ruins of Pompeii. This means that Romans also made dough products. During the exploration of a 4th-century graveyard in Egypt, scientists discovered an image that depicted something similar to the pasta-production process, and claim to have found pasta there as well.
Pasta is one of the most important foods. In the food pyramid, it is a source of energy substances that are less in fruit and vegetables. Pasta is made of wheat, spelt, buckwheat, other types of flour and water, and some additional products (such as eggs and spices). Flour is combined with water and other components in mixers until the surface of the dough is even and has no traces of flour. The dough is then kneaded and rolled out into a solid mass without air pockets. The pasta is made by cutting out or using another method to form different dough shapes. It is usually created using presses, whereby the dough is pushed under high pressure through the holes of a press mould. The shape of the pasta depends on the holes in the mould, which allow tubes, twists, strips and other varieties to be made. These are then cut into smaller portions.
There are more than 310 known pasta shapes, and it can be fresh (pasta fresca) or dried (pasta seca). There are two types of fresh pasta: pasta liscia (smooth, or flat pasta) and pasta ripiena (stuffed pasta such as rolls (tortellini) and Italian dumplings (ravioli)). Shaped pasta is dried using hot air from a drying machine. The drying time and temperature depend on the type of pasta. This is a particularly important process because it determines the pasta’s appearance.
Nutritional values of pasta
You can find various types of pasta in stores. The main difference between various types of pasta lies in the quality of the wheat flour. This must be perfect. The quantity of glutens and composition of wheat protein determines the quality of pasta. Pasta has one of the lowest fat contents among foods: 100 g of it contains up to 2 g of fat, with egg pasta containing up to 5 g (daily intake – 100 g). Moreover, pasta contains plenty of carbohydrates needed in a healthy body, with 100 g containing 74.2 g of carbohydrates. As a source of energy, pasta meals are therefore highly recommended for those who enjoy playing sport. Pasta also contains 11 g of proteins per 100 g of the product. In addition, it has A-, E- and B-group vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, iron and magnesium. Pasta sates the appetite for a long time and normalises intestinal function.
How to cook pasta
If you want to enjoy great-tasting pasta, you only need to know a few important tips. After trying properly cooked pasta just once, you will never want to cook it the way you did before. One of the most important rules is not to overcook pasta. Overcooking is a major sin! It is also important to have the correct proportion of water, salt and pasta. You will need 1 litre of water and a teaspoon of salt per 100 g of pasta. Fill a large pan with water to about 3/4 of its volume. Add salt when the water begins to boil. Be particularly careful when cooking wheat pasta, and do not cook longer than indicated on the packaging. When pasta is overcooked, it releases its starch and swells up. The inside of correctly cooked pasta should remain somewhat hard. If you want to keep it in a perfect shape, do not cover the pot with a lid, otherwise it will swell up or the pieces will stick together. Drain the water or use a strainer. Keep the pasta in the strainer until all the water drains out – there is no need to dry it, which makes the pasta sticky and tasteless. When it cools down, the starch will harden and the pasta will stick together.
Rinsing cooked pasta with cold water is not recommended because this prevents the sauce from sticking to it. You could add some of the water in which you cooked the pasta to the sauce, helping the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are making a pasta salad, you could rinse the cooked pasta with cold water to cool it quickly. If you have some pasta left over and you want to keep it for the next day, rinse it with cold water and sprinkle it with oil to prevent it from amassing in lumps.