In his book, “The Travels of Marco Polo,” there is a passage that briefly mentions his introduction to a plant that produced flour (possibly a “breadfruit tree”). The Chinese used this plant to create a meal similar to barley flour. The barley like meal Polo mentioned was used to make several pasta like dishes, including one described as “lagana” (lasagna). Since Polo’s original text no longer exists, the book relies heavily on retellings by various authors and experts. This, combined with the fact that pasta was already gaining popularity in other areas of Italy during the 13th century, makes it very unlikely that Marco Polo was the first to introduce pasta to Italy.
Noodles existed in Asia long before Polo’s trip to China. Archaeologists believe that central Asia is most likely the first area to have produced noodles thousands of years ago. From Asia, it traveled westward. The way it reached Europe is unclear, though there are many theories some believe that nomadic Arabs are responsible for bringing early forms of pasta westward. Once it reached the Mediterranean the process was refined, and durum wheat became the ingredient of choice for pasta flour because of its high gluten content and long shelf life. When durum wheat pasta is dried, it lasts indefinitely, making it a very convenient food to store. Over time, because pasta’s affordable, shelf life, and versatility, it became firmly rooted in Italian culture. The warm Mediterranean climate of Italy is suited to growing fresh vegetables and herbs, which meant that Italians could get creative with a delicious variety of pasta sauces. Tomato based sauces emerged as a favorite complement to pasta, and tomatoes remain the most popular ingredient in pasta sauce today.
Research Source: PBS/The History Kitchen
I decided to bring two culinary flavors together, great combo.
Copyrighted 2014, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.
1 pound ground beef
salt and pepper, to taste
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning (see note)
1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
cheddar cheese, for garnish
In a skillet, over medium heat, add ground beef. Breaking meat up as it cooks. Season meat with salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink. Add onions, cook 5 minutes, stirring. Add taco seasoning, add diced tomatoes with green chilies, tomato sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Stir in pasta. Cover, and simmer for 12 to 14 minutes, until pasta tender, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cheese. Enjoy!
Note: Click here to see the recipe for my homemade taco seasoning.