November 02, 2008
Canoodling with Pasta

Noodles or pasta? Pasta or noodles? They are a standard starting point for many dishes, extremely diverse in ingredients, cultural origin, structure and aesthetics. Though their inventor and country of origin is disputed, the relationship between noodles and pasta dates back more than 700 years. In the late 13th century, Marco Polo traveled to China and brought noodles back to Italy to add to his country’s staple of pasta. Though Marco Polo gets the credit, and the story is widely believed, some think it is just a legend and that it was actually the Arabs who introduced noodles to Sicily in 827 when they took over the island.

Today, the word “pasta” usually refers to Italian-style recipes and “noodle” has a more general meaning that includes Asian-style dishes. There are two basic forms of pasta—noodles and macaroni. Macaroni’s ingredient list includes semolina and water while noodles include egg solids. Without the egg, the pasta can’t be called a noodle.

I have compiled some of my favorite noodle recipes to share with Sun Valley Magazine readers, as it is the variety of noodles and their extreme versatility that keeps foodies clamoring to include them in recipes around the world.

Knowing Noodles

shapes and dates

• The world’s oldest noodle is discovered in China. Radiocarbon dating of the food indicates that it is about 4,000 years old.
• In 1740, the city of Venice issued Paolo Adami a license to open the first pasta factory.
• By the turn of the century, pasta exportation was the bread and butter of Italy. In 1913, exportation touched a high of 70,000 tons.
• In 1970, Nissin Foods launched “Top Ramen” in the U.S. and the rest is history. College students still consider the six-for-$1 instant noodles culinary magic.
• Farfalle: Elaborate, short pastas that are cut from a sheet of dough and then pinched in the middle to form a bow. (Source: Dishy)
• Penne: Features a hollow middle and smooth surface. Good for both thick and more liquid sauces—the smooth surface absorbs water while the hollow core can be completely filled. (Source: Dishy)
• Spaghetti, pappardelle, and fettucine are three types of long pasta whose names are variations of the same theme—“little ropes.” (Source: Dishy)
• Ramen noodles originated in China and are called “Lo-Mein,” which means boiled noodles. (Source: The Book of Ramen)
• Rice-Flour Noodles: These are made from rice, wheat and water, come in a variety of thicknesses, and develop a
matte white appearance after being boiled or soaked.
(Source: Noodles, 40 delicious and Imaginative Noodle Recipes) >>>



Ramen Noodle Salad

A recipe from my sister. Good stuff.

2 packs beef flavor Ramen noodles
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 16-oz package coleslaw
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup Craisins
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil

Crush noodles and mix with next six ingredients. Using beef seasoning from soup, mix with the cup sugar, vinegar and oil. Pour over salad immediately prior to serving so noodles don’t get mushy. >>>



Pasta Jambalaya

My older sister is a fan of the noodle. It is the carb lover in her. She created this recipe by omitting rice (a Southern sin), but I think it is so good that I had to share it. This is a great dish to substitute with leftover turkey.

1 pound boneless chicken, cubed
1 pound Cajun spicy sausage
The Southern Holy Trinity:
1 large onion, chopped;
1 large green bell pepper, chopped;
4-6 ribs of celery, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 small cans tomato paste
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced (or one 28-oz can diced tomatoes)
1 large bay leaf
4 cups chicken stock
Creole Seasoning to taste
(you can make your own: 2 teaspoons cayenne, 2 teaspoons pepper, 1 teaspoon white pepper, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon sugar)
1 pound farfalle (or other pasta of your choice)

In a sauté pan, add butter or oil and brown chicken over medium-high heat. Season chicken with Creole Seasoning (or pepper and garlic salt mixture). Drain chicken and set aside. If using leftover, already-cooked poultry, season appropriately and tear into bite-sized pieces. Using same pot, add oil or butter and brown sausage, drain and set aside. In stock pot, add 1 tablespoon butter, Holy Trinity and garlic. Cook until onions are clear. Add the tomato paste. Once the tomato paste has browned a bit, pour in 2 cups of stock, stirring completely and scraping pan to get browned bits at bottom (this is the good stuff and it should be pretty thick.) Add tomatoes, Creole Seasoning, and salt to taste, simmering for 10-15 minutes. Then add the meat and the rest of the stock (and any seasonings that strike your fancy) and cook another 15 minutes on medium-low heat. Boil pasta while sauce is marinating on stove and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain pasta and mix well with sauce. Pour in large baking dish and bake (uncovered) for 10-15 minutes. >>>



Mango Shrimp Summer Rolls

I found this recipe in SELF Magazine and have adapted it to fit my tastes. Grab a grocery-store dipping sauce or make your own to serve. This dish can be made up to 4 hours ahead and chilled—but cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap.

12 large shrimp, deveined and peeled
3 ounces vermicelli rice-stick noodles
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 (8-inch) rice paper rounds (get extra in case some tear) or buy spring roll wrappers to save time
48 fresh cilantro leaves (one bunch)
48 fresh mint leaves (one bunch)
1 seedless cucumber (approx. 1 lb. peeled, cored, and julienned)
3 scallions cut into 3”-long julienne strips
1 pound firm ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and julienned

Add shrimp to a 5-quart pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt to 4 quarts water), reduce heat and poach shrimp at a scant simmer, uncovered, until cooked through (about 3 minutes). Transfer shrimp to ice and bring water to a boil again. Chill shrimp for 2 minutes, pat dry, and devein and cut in half lengthwise. Add noodles to boiling water and cook until tender (about 3 minutes). Rinse and drain noodles. Stir vinegar, sugar, and salt until sugar is dissolved and add noodles. Toss to coat. Put double thickness of paper towel on a flat surface and fill a shallow baking pan with warm water. Check rice-paper rounds for holes, soak one round in the warm water until pliable—about 30 seconds—and transfer to towels (or use store-bought spring roll wrappers). Arrange 3 shrimp halves (cut sides up) in a row across bottom third of soaked rice paper. Spread 1/4 cup noodles on top of shrimp and arrange 3 cilantro leaves, 3 mint leaves, 8 cucumber sticks, 6 scallion strips, and 10 mango sticks horizontally on top of noodles. Fold bottom of rice paper over filling and began rolling tightly. Stop at the halfway point, arrange 3 more mint leaves and 3 more cilantro leaves across crease, then fold in ends and continue rolling. Transfer to a plate, seam down, and cover with damp paper towel. Make the rest of the rolls and serve with sauce. >>>


Spicy Southern Mac ‘n’ Cheese

This is from The Grit in Athens, Georgia. It is a wonderful place, with great home food.

1 pound penne pasta (or a similiar pasta of your choice)
6 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons mustard (dry or 3 teaspoons prepared)
1 or 2 cups bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (I substitute Vermont cheddar and pepper jack)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 9×13 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Prepare pasta until just cooked, firm but not hard. Drain and set aside. In pasta pot, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Return pasta to pot, stir to coat. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add milk, hot sauce, mustard, salt and cayenne, and whisk to combine. Add to pasta mixture and stir to coat. Add cheese and stir to combine. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until substance is creamy and the cheese melts. Transfer to a baking pan. Meanwhile, back on the range, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter, add bread crumbs and stir to combine. Spread mixture evenly over macaroni. Bake 10-15 minutes until top is golden.

Honey Garlic Pasta

This recipe has a great sweet and spicy kick. I use it as a side for many meals as it pairs well with meat or vegetables.

1 package (16 oz) angel hair pasta
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup good raw honey
1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup grated Asiago cheese (or try something else for variation)
1 medium spicy pepper, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a skillet, sauté the garlic and pepper in butter. Stir in honey, basil, and thyme. Drain pasta, add to garlic mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.



This article appears in the Winter 2009 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.