In the 1960s only two kinds of pasta were known to most people: spaghetti, which came in tins and was served on toast, and macaroni, which was served either in a cheese sauce or as a pudding.

Yet, 30 years later, pasta exploded into our lives with such force that almost became a standard British staple — we now consume more than 2kg per head per year.

What is real pasta?
Originally, pasta in Italy was a conception of sheer genius. It began with growing the highest-quality hard wheat, and the name given to this specific type of wheat was durum, from the Latin, meaning hard.

After the pasta maker had purchased exactly the right grain, the next important stage was finding the right miller to mill the grain to a certain precise specification —and not to a fine, powdery flour but to something called semolina, which is derived from the Italian for 'semi milled' and is quite unlike flour, as semolina is made up of tiny, coarse, corn-coloured granules with sharp edges.

The skill of the pasta maker was to then carefully mix the semolina with cold water. Then, after the mixing came the shaping, and the pasta was forced through special bronze dies, which gave it a specific texture.

After that the pasta was dried in open-windowed lofts where either the mountain air or sea breezes — or both, depending on the region — could circulate. This carefully monitored drying process could take up to two days. It was this natural drying process, along with the specifications above, that produced a quality of pasta that had captured within it all the nuttiness and flavour of the wheat grain but also a special texture.

Read more in-depth information on pasta in our Delia Online Cookery School Study Notes for Pasta


Related Recipes
Spaghetti Bolognese Serves 2

Spaghetti Bolognese

Delia's Ragu Bolognese sauce is transformed into Spaghetti Bolognese with the addition of tomatoes and basil

Baked Macaroni Pie Serves 3-4

Baked Macaroni Pie

Use a portion of Delia's Ragu Bolognese, add macaroni pasta and a white sauce to transform it in to Baked Macaroni Pie

Trofie Pasta Liguria (Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans) Serves 2

Trofie Pasta Liguria (Pasta with Pesto, Potatoes and Green Beans)

Could home-made pesto sauce get any better? Yes - when it is turned into Trofie Pasta Liguria

Pasta alla Carbonara Serves 2

Pasta alla Carbonara

Serve the pasta on really hot deep plates with some extra grated Pecorino Romano

Lasagne al Forno Serves 6

Lasagne al Forno

Lasagne al Forno can be made well in advance (or even frozen), then all you need to do is to bake it in the oven for 45-50 minutes

Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Garlic and Chilli Serves 2

Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Garlic and Chilli

Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best: this one is also brilliant if you're eating cheaply as the ingredients are all very economical and you'll probably have them in the storecupboard already.

Deep-fried Prawns tied with Noodle Bows with a Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce Serves 4 as a starter; 2 as a main course.

Deep-fried Prawns tied with Noodle Bows with a Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

These lovely, sizzling deep-fried prawns are packed with flavour - and the dipping sauce simply adds plenty of Oriental elements. A real treat...

Spaghetti with Anchovies, Mushrooms and Olives Serves 2

Spaghetti with Anchovies, Mushrooms and Olives

If you like lots of gutsy flavour in food, you'll like this recipe, which should be made with the very best olive oil and served with lots of fresh Parmesan.

Baked Cannelloni Serves 4

Baked Cannelloni

This clever recipe uses the principles of making lasagne and adapts these to cannelloni, using no-soak lasagne, minced pork and bechamel.

Macaroni au Gratin Serves 3

Macaroni au Gratin

Classic macaroni cheese, with the addition of bacon and mushrooms, for winter comfort food that's cheap to make and a real pleasure to eat.




CMS solutions by