(photo from Umbe Ber/Pixabay)
Every time I do a food column, I look up its history, and I am continually fascinated by what I learn. We all know what is pasta – unleavened semolina mixed with water or eggs and formed into various shapes. It was not until 1874 that the word pasta came into popular use, from the Italian. However, there is mention, as early as the first century CE of fried dough as an everyday food.
Lagana is mentioned in a fifth-century cookbook as an ancient version of lasagna. A kind of boiled dough is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud, common in ancient Israel from the third to fifth centuries CE. Dry pasta became popular in the 14th and 15th centuries; tomatoes came to Italy in the 16th century and to Italian cuisine in the 17th century. Pasta became popular in North America with the Italian immigration at the beginning of the 20th century.
How many kinds of pasta do you think there are – long, medium length, short cut, stretch, soup, with fillings and gnocchi? There are 163!
Here are some recipes, which use different kinds of pasta.
MY FAVOURITE LO-CAL FETTUCCINE ALFREDO
8 ounces fettuccine noodles
4 cups pareve chicken soup
1 cup low-fat sour cream
2 tbsp low-fat margarine
2 minced garlic cloves
3 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
- Cook noodles in chicken soup 12 minutes. Drain. Place in a bowl.
- In a frying pan, melt margarine. Sauté garlic one minute. Reduce heat and add sour cream and blend. Add noodles.
- Serve with parsley and Parmesan cheese.
CHEESY FETTUCCINE ALFREDO
1/3 cup butter or margarine
8 ounces cooked, drained egg noodles
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese
1/2 cup half and half
- Melt butter or margarine in a frying pan.
- Add noodles and toss well.
- Sprinkle with cheese and toss gently until cheeses are melted and blended.
- Add half and half just to heat. Serve at once.
PENNE WITH EGGPLANT, OLIVES AND FETA
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 diced medium red bell peppers
3 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 pound eggplant, cut into 1//2-inch cubes
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes in juice diced or 1 pound regular diced tomatoes
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or 1/4 cup dry
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata or other black-brine cured olives
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 3/4 cups crumbled feta cheese
- Spray a rectangular baking dish with vegetable spray. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Heat oil in a large pot. Add bell peppers and garlic. Sauté three minutes. Add eggplant and oregano. Reduce heat, cover and cook until eggplant is soft (about 15 minutes).
- Add tomatoes, 1/4 cup fresh basil (or 1/8 cup dry), olives, tomato paste and vinegar. Cover and simmer about 12 minutes.
- Cook pasta in boiling salt water until just tender. Drain well.
- Stir pasta into vegetable mixture. Transfer to baking dish and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with feta and 1/4 cup fresh (or 1/8 cup dry) basil.
Sybil Kaplan is a journalist, lecturer, book reviewer and food writer in Jerusalem. She created and leads the weekly English-language Shuk Walks in Machane Yehuda, she has compiled and edited nine kosher cookbooks.