Since before recorded history, wheat, and the pasta made from it, have been sustaining the human race in its struggle to survive. Naturally, over the years, the dishes prepared with pasta have evolved and become ever more creative and sophisticated. Here are just seven of the best that show the heights to which pasta dishes can rise:
Beef stroganoff (Russia) – The traditional version of this dish most notably includes sour cream, paprika, veal stock and white wine along with succulent filet mignon strips draped over the top. The result is haute cuisine that also provides a truly fortifying meal. Try it with chicken for a light but just as tasty change.
Sesame noodles with chicken (China) – Long a favorite in the Far East, noodles coated in sesame sauce, seeds, rice wine vinegar plus soy sauce have delighted the taste buds of gourmands as far away as France and the United States. For an extra punch, green onions scattered on top can add a nice crunch and sour taste to complement to the relatively sweet base sauce.
Su udon (Japan) – Served piping hot during the winter months in Japan, this noodle soup is regularly voted by the residents of that country as of their all-time favorites. Wheat noodles (pasta) is warmed in a salty broth made of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Then scallions and such extra goodies as shrimp, tempura or tofu cakes are added on topped.
Fettucine alfredo (Italy) – A relatively simple dish made from the wide pasta known in Italy as fettuccine and tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter, fettucine alfredo is also considered the height of Italian cooking if prepared properly. This is a great summertime dish, especially on cool evenings as it is light but also filling.
Macaroni and cheese (United States) – For pure comfort food, this quintessentially American food is hard to beat. Relatively easy to make, the greatness of this dish relies on the use the best possible ingredients. If you use the best real cheddar cheese you can find, it is hard to go wrong with this dish. Most recipes also include a bread crumb topping for some extra crunch.
Pad Thai (Thailand) – A little bit different from the other dishes on this list, Pad Thai uses stir fried noodles as a base. Considered a "street food' in its native land, it has taken on a definitively haute cuisine reputation in other countries. Most current versions include eggs, chopped tofu, tamarind pulp, fish sauce, garlic, red chili peppers, peanuts and shrimp.
Spaetzle (Germany) – Similar to other Eastern European pastas such as Nokedli, Csipetke or Galuska, this German egg noodle dish is a favorite in all of Europe. Spaetzle typically accompanies a meat but in certain dishes spinach, pork or grated cheese will be incorporated into the pasta itself. Enjoy spaetzle at any time of the year, as it is as good cold as it is served warmed.
A final thought – Pasta in all its innumerable forms will undoubtedly remain a constant in the word of fine dining not just in the West but in all other cuisines as well. Hopefully, these five dishes will give a gourmand a better appreciation for pasta and allow them to expand their tastes to include even more kinds of pasta dishes.