Celebrate National Pasta Month in style

National Pasta Month

Pasta isn't just spaghetti; it comes in a wide variety of flavors, tastes and textures. Image: Flickr / TinyTall / CC-BY-ND

October is National Pasta Month, and there is practically no reason to not celebrate. Pasta take many forms outside of your basic spaghetti, and the harvest months are the perfect time to explore your options. Pasta can be as healthy or indulgent as you want to make it, so use October to try a little of everything.

The history of pasta

Pasta is a food with a very long and international history. In China, a 4,000-year old pasta made from millet was uncovered. In 1874, the word “pasta” was first recorded as being a part of the English language. Wherever the product started, a pasta is generally any grain or flour mixed with water or any variety of ingredients to create a noodle or shaped grain. In America, the most common pastas are Italian-style dried pastas, made of durum wheat flour. Rice and corn pastas are also gaining popularity.

The basics of pasta

When creating a dish with a pasta element, it is important to consider the role the noodle will play. Different types of sauces stick to pasta in different ways, and the various shapes can help it hold on better. Pasta is best cooked by boiling or braising in hot liquid. If a pasta is fresh, it will cook much faster than dried pasta.

Making your own pasta for National Pasta Month

If you feel like trying to make your own pasta, it can be very fast. The best part is, you can make the pasta more flavorful and it takes less money and about the same amount of time to make. Check the bulk or specialty food section of your grocery store for durum wheat flour — it will be a golden yellow color. Mix 2 cups of flour with two eggs. Knead the mixture on a well-floured board until it comes together in a slightly sticky ball. Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. Roll out the pasta, cut it into whatever shapes you desire, and cook for 3-4 minutes in rapidly boiling water. Once you are comfortable making your own pasta, try mixing in fresh diced basil, garlic powder, or even butternut squash paste.

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