An Introduction to Pasta
There are over 600 types of pasta served around the world. From long spaghetti to curly fusilli, and even Israeli couscous, the varieties are wide-ranging and compatible as dishes on their own, or as a side to any protein. Though the seemingly never-ending list of pasta options can be intimidating, various sites exist to sort out the confusions that arise from tagliatelle, conchiglie, capellini, and other sorts. Most people tend to have a favorite pasta dish or type of pasta. The most popular include spaghetti and meatballs, spaghetti with marinara sauce, ravioli, pesto pasta, and macaroni and cheese. The main ingredients of pasta vary as well. It can be made from white flour, whole wheat flour, rice flour, and potatoes and flour. It can be based on eggs, egg yolks, or water. Deep frying pasta dough can add a nice garnish to light dishes such as ceviche and salads. Supermarkets offer inexpensive pasta options, but for more gourmet pasta, and a significant improvement in taste, homemade pasta or outsourcing from one of the increasing number of specialty pasta shops, especially for stuffed pastas such as ravioli, is worth considering.
Using Pasta on the Restaurant Menu
Pasta is a general staple for a restaurant menu. To differentiate itself from typical restaurants, a venue may opt to prepare their own pasta. A business expecting to produce large homemade pasta quantities may want to invest in a pasta sheeter, while all businesses can benefit from a pasta cooker option, since boiling water is usually the most time consuming aspect of the dish. Though the ingredients for making pasta are about as simple as any dish can get, there are strong preferences for pairing certain types of pasta with certain toppings or sauces. “Spaghetti and cheese” just does not ring the same as “macaroni and cheese” and it is extremely rare to see macaroni paired with meatballs and tomato sauce. This is due to the shape of the pasta, which allows it to be matched to a dish by complementing the texture and flavor of the other ingredients in the dish. The smaller shape of macaroni breaks up the smooth texture of the cheese sauce, while the hollow center allows the cheese and cream to melt into the pasta. On the other hand, spaghetti’s smooth mouth feel complements a chunky, acidic tomato sauce. The toppings added to a pasta dishes can also allow or prevent them to be suitable pasta side dishes. In general, pasta with a cream sauce will be paired with lighter proteins such as chicken and fish, but less likely to be paired with fatty meats. On the other hand, pastas with light topping such as pesto pasta, and pasta with olive oil and garlic, will complement almost any protein.
Pasta is a safe, delicious staple for any menu. An Oxfam International survey done in 17 countries revealed that pasta is one of the world’s favorite foods, along with meat and rice. Offering a selection of quality, creative pasta dishes or pasta side dishes on a restaurant menu is guaranteed to be a worthwhile choice.