Pasta pasta pasta!



Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic and chilli, big fat rigatoni with a chunky tomato and meatballs sauce or penne with olive oil, cherry tomatoes, clams and parsley – I cannot get enough of pasta! I would be shockingly bad at keeping to any form of low carb diet but fortunately I live in Italy so have plenty of opportunity to indulge my cravings. And as my Italian sister-in-law once said when choosing what to eat in a restaurant “well, I’ve not had pasta yet today…”

Some pasta facts:

  • There are over 300 different types of pasta
  • The word “pasta” comes from the Italian (originally Latin) word for dough
  • Pasta shape and sauce should complement each other. A thinner, lighter pasta (like spaghetti) should have a thinner, lighter sauce while thicker pasta shapes work well with heavier sauces.
  • “Al dente” means “to the tooth” ie firm to the bite
Dried pasta

Dried pasta for sale by weight

And pasta names aren’t just random, they do actually have origins in Italian words, here are what a few of them mean:

  • Spaghetti – little strings
  • Farfalle – butterflies
  • Linguine – little tongues
  • Penne – pens (as in a quill pen)
  • Vermicelli – little worms

Here are a couple of my favourite, very simple pasta dishes that I hadn’t come across before I moved to Italy:

Pasta in bianco (white pasta) – this is so easy it’s ridiculous but it’s very tasty – cook your pasta and drain, add a glug of good olive oil and grate some fresh parmesan over the top. That’s it! It’s also yummy with a little bit of chilli oil over the top (or chillis if you’re brave enough!). If you want you can also throw in a tin of tuna or some chickpeas or cannellini beans. Almost easier than sticking something in the microwave or oven this is my go to dish when the cupboards are bare.

Spaghetti with prawns

Spaghetti with prawns

Pasta con lenticchie (pasta with lentils) – I use ditalini pasta for this but if you can’t get hold of that a short cut macaroni also works well. Gently fry an onion and a couple of carrots (I always use the Nigella tip of adding salt to onions when they’re cooking as it seems to sweat them rather than frying until they’re brown/burnt). Add about 200g of green/brown lentils (the kind that don’t dissolve and keep their shape) and cover with boiling water. Add salt, although I sometimes use a stock cube instead. Keep an eye on it to make sure that the water doesn’t dry out and top up with water if necessary. Cook the lentils for the recommended time (check for seasoning at the end) and then add to your cooked, drained pasta and as always, a good glug of olive oil. When cooking the lentils you can either boil all the water away and serve as more of a pasta dish or keep some liquid and serve as a kind of soup/pasta hybrid.


Photo credits: Photo 1 – Flickr, Photo 2 – Flickr, Photo 3 – Flickr

Categories: Food, Italy

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  1. I would love to make my own pasta. The whole family love any type of pasta so it would really come in handy!

  2. Oooh would love this! Our favourite pasta dishes are lasagne and spag bol. Can’t beat a good spag bol…

  3. We are going on our first ever Canvas holiday, this summer, to Lake Garda and we are looking forward to trying out some new pasta dishes whilst we are there. A pasta machine would be fantastic as I could pick up some tips on holiday and try out making homemade pasta when we got home.


  5. We’d love this! When we stayed at the Florence site last September our then 9 month old developed a taste for Wild Boar Taglione! Slurping pasta is now one of his favourite things – I’m sure he eats more than we do. Would be great to make our own 🙂

  6. My favourite pasta shape is radiatore (although I can never find them here now). They look just like little old school radiators!

  7. As my husband says I’m a ‘pastaholic’, I love pasta well all Italian foods! It’s so easy to cook and so filling! I love all types of pasta meals from Lasagne to pasta salads! Yum. My very favourite though? Spaghetti bolognese! Made from scratch as well, nothing beats it, along with some freshly baked garlic bread, freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano and ground black pepper. Would be fantastic if I could make the pasta from scratch as well!

  8. No exaggeration – I LOVE pasta, in all it’s many forms. When I’m hungry and need food quickly, nothing hits the spot quite like a warm bowl of penne with a fiery tomato & chilli sauce. When I’m making a romantic meal, I invariably end up cooking something like seafood linguine in a creamy sauce and when I crave some proper ‘comfort food’, I almost always make macaroni cheese. I’d love to own a pasta machine to try my hand at making fresh pasta. The supermarket variety is fine but I bet fresh, homemade stuff is even better. As a family of pasta-fanatics, I can guarantee it would get plenty of use!

  9. As a vegetarian and lover of all things Italian, pasta is a staple in my house! My favourite has to be Baked Ziti or Spinach and Ricotta Canneloni X

  10. Love it with most things but especially with a garlic and mushroom creamy sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan with a rocket salad!

  11. Mine is spaghetti bolognais as its my fussy toddlers fave and one of the only ways we can get her to try new veg! Bonus plus most people like it so added bonus!

  12. When I went to camping Les Granges, there was an Italian waiter.

    He said he had been on the pasta diet for the past year.

    He walka pasta da cake shop
    He walka pasta da sweet shop
    He walka pasta da ice cream shop

  13. My daughter who’s 6, adores spag Bol, would love to make the spaghetti from scratch for her x

  14. Would love to win this as this – something to help me when I am getting creative in the kitchen

  15. The competition is now closed. Thanks everyone for your entries – some great new dishes in there that I’ll definitely have to try!

    And the winner is…………………..Jane Foley! Well done Jane, I’ll send you an email.