January 19, 2008

Pasta ABCs

A Pasta Primer: Everything you need to know to serve perfect pasta dishes with Ronzoni products (1985, 8 pages) is a foldout recipe brochure published by the General Foods Corp. that presents some elementary information on pasta in a dictionary-like format.

It's illustrated with small color drawings and contains only five recipes.

Here are some of the dictionary-type entries found inside, a few of which have a little pronunciation assistance.

Al dente (al-DEN-tay): Literally, "to the tooth," which is how Italians test pasta to see if it is properly cooked. The pasta should be a bit firm, offering some resistance to the tooth, but tender. How to test for that? By tasting it, naturally.

Calories: Think there are a lot of these in pasta? Wrong! A 1-cup serving of pasta averages about 190 calories if cooked al dente, 155 calories if cooked until tender. With a light sauce--1/4 cup tomato sauce at about 40 calories--pasta makes a satisfying dish with not many calories at all.

Durum wheat: A hard wheat, the principal ingredient in manufactured pasta.

International: Though the name is Italian, pasta has an international appeal. Eastern Europeans serve noodles with their entrees, often with sour cream. The Greeks use macaroni in a favorite dish with sweet spices and a custard topping. In Scandinavia, macaroni salads are a usual part of the smorgasbords. And in the Orient, where some say pasta originated (actually, the Italians have records of serving it long before Marco Polo and his travels), noodles--slim and often made of other flours--are as much a staple as rice.

Spaghetti (spa-GET-ee): General term for long pasta strands or rods, ranging from very fine capellini (kap-a-LEE-nee); fine hairs) to spaghetti. Linguine (lin-GWEE-nee); little tongues) are flattened spaghetti. Fusilli is spaghetti in twists.


1/2 package (8 oz.) Ronzoni medium shells or rotelle
2 cups zucchini chunks or slices*
3/4 cup seeded diced green pepper
3/4 cup seeded diced red pepper
1 can (7 oz). tuna, drained and chunked
1/2 cup black pitted olives, sliced
1/2 cup prepared Good Seasons Italian dressing

*Or use broccoli florets, blanched, drained and rinsed with cold water.

Cook shells as directed on package; drain, rinse with cold water and reserve in large bowl. Add zucchini to shells with peppers, chunked tuna and olives. Stir dressings and pour over salad and toss. Makes 4 servings. Recipe may be doubled.

Looking at this recipe, I realize that I can't remember when the food companies downsized the canned tuna from 7 ounces to 6 ounces, even though I noticed when they did so to coffee, sugar, bacon and tea bags.

I hate it when they downsize the products, but not the prices, thinking consumers won't notice. Sometimes I envision the future, when we will open a can or package, and there will be nothing in it but air. Maybe they will allow us, oh say, one Cheeto in the bag, for our trouble.


At 7:32 AM CST, Blogger T.W. Barritt said...

It's funny that they felt they needed to define "International." Guess the world was a bit smaller in 1985! I also like the calorie description from the pre carb-conscious days.

At 1:45 PM CST, Blogger Kathy said...

T.W. - Guess the world was even smaller in the 1970s. In the booklet I'm looking at today, they're using the words "foreign lands."


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