Pasta Is New Again!

April 24, 2009

Just about everyone was enjoying twirling noodles until the pasta police arrived and ruined it for everyone with their emphatic declaration that white was not right! Pasta as we knew it had to go! A health ruination, a weight gain menace, a carb with consequences!

What to do? Enter the world of whole grain pasta! We are saved. Hooray! We can twirl linguine once again!

It is time for whole grain pasta to take its rightful place on the dinner table. Growing up in a large southern Italian family, pasta was always a central dish. We didn’t call it pasta (which means paste), we called it macaroni and we understood its character and goodness because it was made a mano (by hand). Every week, the hand crank pasta machine would get anchored to my mother’s thick butcher block baking center. My job was to turn the crank, a job I truly disliked.

I would watch as dozens of fresh deep, orange yoked eggs were cracked and cradled in the middle of heaping mounds of white flour. My mother and grandmother would work the ingredients together so fast that even a food processor would be envious! The result was batch after batch of spaghetti and linguine hanging to dry on dowel rods that were propped between chairs. Some was saved in wide, flat cardboard boxes to cook later; some was given away; and some went right into the pot.

Every Sunday without fail, huge platters made their steamy way down the long dining room table. Macaroni thin as shoelaces and tossed in mom’s best tomato sauce was a culinary triumph. No one sitting at the table would even have known what whole wheat pasta was back then, not even in Italy.

But eating habits change with time and so it is with pasta. Ever since carbohydrates were declared enemies of the plate, many of us have had to reluctantly resign ourselves to a single reality . . . our beloved pasta had been banished from the garden of eating.

Choosing to incorporate whole grain pasta in your diet will definitely affect your health for the better. You’ll get more minerals and vitamins, that’s for sure. You won’t have to worry so much about packing on the pounds because whole grains are absorbed slowly into your system, leaving you with that full feeling while eating less. You’ll have more energy too!

Pasta is a food of the ancient world, but the world of whole grain pasta is in its infancy. Open a box and discover the satisfaction and surprise that comes from adding whole grain pasta to your diet.

In one of my previous books devoted to pasta (Mangia Pasta!), I explored the world of conventional pasta made from durum semolina, a hard wheat. And I showcased the difference between dried pasta (pasta secca) and fresh pasta (pasta fresca). I discussed the appropriate sauces for each type and explained, in great detail, that cooking pasta requires more than a pot of boiling water, it is an art. Sometimes the simpler the cooking appears, the harder the technique is for getting it right. If you’re looking for more lessons and tips for cooking pasta, you might want to check out Mangia Pasta.

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