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

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.

Spaghetti with Tuna and Olives Serves 3

Spaghetti with Tuna and Olives

Easy and nutritious, this is the sort of recipe that every student should have up his or her sleeve as it costs very little but tastes sensational and uses storecupboard ingredients - perfect for when you haven't time to go shopping.

Angel-hair Pasta with Thai Spiced Prawns Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter

Angel-hair Pasta with Thai Spiced Prawns

Lovely spicy flavours here: just fry the prawns with onions and garlic, tomatoes, lime, wine and Thai red curry paste, cook the finest of pasta, then combine it all for a really wonderful and easy supper dish.

Tagliatelle with Gorgonzola and Toasted Walnuts Serves 4

Tagliatelle with Gorgonzola and Toasted Walnuts

The crunch of the walnuts and the tang of the blue cheese combine to make this a really wonderful vegetarian pasta dish that's made in minutes.




CMS solutions by