Reinventing pasta

Bob Books
24th November 2015

Did you know there are over 300 different pasta shapes in Italy? Some would say that this is still an underestimation.  But as well as being served in every home and local ristorante with different shapes and sauces depending on the region you find yourself in, pasta is being re-invented in Italy’s Michelin-starred establishment.

With the help of Great Italian Chefs we take a look at how pasta is having a makeover.  

Filled pasta

Every region of Italy has its own traditional version of stuffed pasta which is why there are so many variations in shape, stuffing and sauce. Now modern Italian chefs are filling little pasta parcels with all sorts of indulgent ingredients to make them more sophisticated and elegant than home-made versions. The only limit to their elegance is the imagination.

For an incredibly decadent ravioli, look at Gaetano Trovato’s lobster and sea bream version which is served with fresh lobster and saffron potatoes. Aurora Mazzucchelli blurs the boundaries between sweet and savoury by filling tortelli with Parmesan and lavender and serving them with almonds, borage flowers and a nutmeg sauce. 

Flavoured pasta

Adding unexpected ingredients to the pasta itself is a clever way to add new colour and flavours to a dish. We’re not referring to the multi-coloured pasta shapes you can buy in delis which may look amazing but invariably are tasteless. These freshly made colourful pastas taste and look really vibrant and take homely pasta dishes to a whole new level. 

Rosanna Marziale uses black squid ink tagliatelle to add drama to her squid and mussel dish while Emanuele Scarello livens up the plate by cooking his macaroni in beetroot juice – the pasta becomes a powerful pink and tastes glorious. 

Pasta that’s not really pasta

Some chefs in contemporary Italian restaurants are doing away with pasta all together, replacing it with ingredients that behave a little like it. You may have heard of the recent trend for courgetti – ‘spaghetti’ made from spiralized courgette.  It also works for squid and cuttlefish which can be cut into very fine ribbons and served with sauce. 

Other possible ingredients for spiralizing are carrots, beetroot, celeriac, cucumber, sweet potatoes and kohlrabi. Similarly, vegetables and fruit that can be cut very finely while still retaining their shape and be used to make ravioli. 

Try slicing turnip, kohlrabi, beetroot, mango or pineapple and use it as a wrapper for complementary flavours. For a very sophisticated sweet version take a look at Aurora Mazzucchelli’s Pineapple ravioli with ricotta. It’s served with coffee caviar, raisins, pine nuts and edible flowers. Pretty, delicious and no pasta in sight.

Inspired? Visit Great Italian Chefs for even more exciting pasta recipes.