No pasta is not bread even though they share wheat flour as a common ingredient. Bread uses a leavening agent (yeast) while pasta uses unleavened dough.
However, despite its similarities with bread, the sad fact is that pasta isn’t bread at all — but that doesn’t stop it from being the staple food for millions around the world.
This article examines the numerous differences that make pasta unique from bread, the history of pasta, as well as the types of pasta.
What is Pasta?
Pasta is a form of food made using a mixture of unleavened dough made with wheat flour and water and/or eggs to form sheets or various shapes. These pasta shapes are then cooked through mostly boiling or sometimes by baking.
Pasta remains a widely enjoyed staple food of Italian cuisine and exists in two broad categories; fresh pasta (pasta fresca) and dried pasta (pasta secca).
Dried pasta can be produced at home but is commercially produced using the extrusion process. Fresh pasta is mostly produced by hand and sometimes employs the use of simple machines to make the process faster. However, fresh pasta can also be commercially produced using large-scale machines.
History of Pasta
Although dating far back in time, the first relevant information regarding pasta and its varieties in Italy, was during the 13th or 14th century.
Historians believe that the food became prominent in Italy due to extensive Mediterranean trading during the Middle Ages.
Pasta dishes referenced in the 13th century include gnocchi, macaroni, vermicelli, and ravioli. These dishes were eaten across the Italian Peninsula.
A 14th-century book written by Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, describes a mouth-watering dish of pasta chefs rolling macaroni and ravioli topped with a mountain of Parmesan cheese.
Additionally, the 14th and 15th centuries saw the popular adoption of dried pasta as a result of its easy storage. This allowed voyagers to store them on ships during their long journeys to discover new parts of the new world.
Pasta since then has evolved over the last 800 years. It was a meal enjoyed by just about everyone and was served with local vegetables, olive oil, or garlic, before the introduction of tomatoes.
What is the difference between pasta and bread?
Pasta differs from bread based on the type of flour used, the leavening agent, and the ingredients used in making them.
The pasta dough was commonly made using durum, a different species of bread wheat. Durum, which is an older species of wheat, has fewer chromosomes and is a hybrid of wild grasses. Modern bread wheat on the hand is more refined and domesticated.
Pasta does not make use of leavening agents and is prepared by boiling in water while bread makes use of artificial leavener, yeast, or sourdough as leavening agents. Also, you bake bread dough in an oven or bake it on a griddle if it’s a flatbread you wish to make.
Pasta in addition to flour also contains eggs, milk, etc. While plain bread mostly makes use of flour and water.
What are the similarities between pasta and bread?
Pasta and bread share the following similarities;
- Bread and pasta both make use of wheat flour.
- They are both rich in carbs and also offer protein and fats.
- Pasta and Bread are grain-based foods hence they are rich in fiber.
- They are both made using dough instead of batter-like cake.
- Pasta and Bread have been staple diets for centuries and are widely consumed around the world.
What nutrients can you find in pasta?
Pasta contains numerous micronutrients like vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B1 (thiamine), ferrous iron, and folate.
What are the ingredients used in making pasta?
Your basic pasta dough consists of mostly semolina or wheat flour. Soft wheat is commonly used in the Northern part of Italy while durum wheat is predominant in the South.
You can also use other grains in making your pasta like chestnut flour, maize flour, chickpea flour, rye, barley, buckwheat, and rice flour.
Other ingredients added to make pasta dough can include spices, spinach, tomato, herbs, cheese, mushrooms, and other seasonings.
Also, not all pasta makes use of unleavened dough as the use of yeast-raised dough exists in about nine different variants of pasta.
SEE: How Long You Should Keep Cooked Pasta in the Fridge
What are the uses of pasta?
Pasta is a common staple that is mostly served with some kind of sauce. This sauce mostly complements the type of pasta prepared in terms of ease of eating, texture, and consistency.
Italian pasta cooking from the northern part uses lesser herbs, tomato sauce, and garlic but majorly utilizes white sauce. Note that Italian pasta cuisine style varies based on their region.
What are the types of pasta?
Pasty types vary according to their shape, size, texture, and uses. They include;
- Long pasta/Medium length pasta
- Minute pasta/soup pasta
- Short-cut pasta
- Pasta all’uovo (egg pasta)
- Fresh pasta
- Pasta with filling
- Stretched pasta
- Gnocchi and gnocchetti
Can you have an allergic reaction to pasta?
Yes, you can have an allergic reaction to eating pasta if you suffer from a wheat allergy, gluten intolerance, or egg intolerance.
However, you can make your pasta from scratch using legume flour or rice flour to replace the use of wheat flour. These flour alternatives are gluten-free and safe if you have a gluten sensitivity. Also, you can use potato flour to supplement whole-grain flour.
You can also avoid using eggs to make your pasta or purchase pasta that has no egg listed in its ingredients if you are intolerant to eggs.
What are the dishes you can eat with pasta?
You can enjoy pasta with vegetable or broth soup (tortellini, agnolotti, or pastina). They can also be enjoyed with a bean soup or minestrone among other dishes.
Is pasta good for diabetics?
Yes, pasta can be consumed by diabetics. Though richer in carbs than most foods, you can include pasta as part of a healthy meal plan even if you have diabetes.
Can vegans eat pasta?
Yes, vegans can eat most packaged pasta like rotini and spaghetti as they are completely vegan. However, be sure to confirm from the label or ingredient list as some contain eggs.
Fresh pasta is an example of pasta made using eggs, so if you’re vegan, you need to avoid them.
The similarities between pasta and bread come from their similar texture, taste, and shape, but it’s the ingredients that ultimately determine whether or not something falls into the category of bread.
However, pasta is an entirely different food from bread; it has its unique nutritional profile and digestibility properties, and its set of health benefits and detriments. It also has its unique way of interacting with the body and satisfying hunger.
Finally, if you’re going to make pasta with flour, go whole grain. Whole wheat spaghetti and brown rice fettuccine are both whole-grain pasta varieties that are healthy variations. Check out the numerous types of whole-grain gluten-free flours you can use to make your pasta.
I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.