Italian Pasta: A Story of Tradition and Quality

It’s probably no surprise that we love pasta, we’re really proud of the brands we stock, what’s great is that we’re not the only ones who think so too. Earlier this year experts from around the world voted for the best pastas, and here are the results from goodhousekeeping.com:   

  • Garofalo – best whole wheat pasta
  • De Cecco – best spaghetti
  • Di Martino – best gourmet pasta
  • Rana Pasta – best stuffed pasta 

Though Italians may not have been the creators of pasta, they have perfected it. For centuries now, Italians have been making pasta at home and have translated the quality of home-cooking to effective commercial production yielding the best quality pastas. Modern pasta is typically made from unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water and/or eggs. Pasta is categorized as either dried (secca) and fresh (fresca). Fresh pasta is eaten right away, while pasta secca is dried, for storage and to be prepared later.

Historically and in modern times, the Italian town of Gragnano, near Naples, is  the site for the best pasta making in Italy (and the world). “The people of Gragnano have been able to produce and dry pasta in the streets for over 1,000 years because the climate works in their favour,” says Giuseppe Di Martino, CEO of the Di Martino Pasta Company.

Italian Homemade: Pasta di Gragnano 

Gragnano is well-situated geographically as the centre of supreme pasta-making, located in a perfect microclimate taking advantage of wind, sun and the humidity from the sea. For centuries local pasta makers (pastai) produced their pasta here, from high quality wheat, mixed with spring water from the local mountains and hang drying it in the mountain air, like laundry. 

The European Union has designated pasta from Gragnano a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), meaning that pasta produced in this region is especially characteristic to the region itself, or in other words, the product’s reputation is specifically tied to this area. You’ll recognize PGI products for their blue and yellow seal on their package.

To uphold this reputation and standard, the pasta must be extruded through a bronze die providing it with texture to help the sauce absorb and stick to the noodle. Also, the wheat should be special: only high-protein wheat, helping the pasta remain “al dente” while it cooks. Other important characteristic is that the pasta must be dried at a low-temperature to maintain the quality and flavours of the wheat. Last but not least, the water that the dough is made must be from that region, because it is very light in calcium and other minerals, so it doesn’t change the structure of the semolina flour. 

Semolina flour is a high-gluten flour, made from hard durum wheat. The high-gluten protein and its rough texture make it suitable and special to produce pasta, creating a less sticky and more elastic dough, helping the pasta to maintain its shape while cooking.

 

The World's Greatest Pasta:

Here are some must-try brands you can find at Pusateri’s

 

Garofalo – best whole wheat pasta

When talking about the history of pasta you're talking about Garofalo, in 1789 they received their business license to produce and sell high quality pasta. Today they continue to maintain the traditions of their original pasta making founders, who received a Royal Decree from the King of Naples for inventing a high quality, hygienic and efficient pasta making machine. Through time they continue to invest and innovate for consistency and perfection, but maintain their high raw material selection standards by verifying every aspect of the wheat, like colour, cleanliness and flavour characteristics.

 

De Cecco – best spaghetti

De Cecco pasta makers choose Italian wheat flour and Californian and Arizonian  wheat, using fresh water from their spring flowing under their pasta factory, ensuring the integrity of the pasta “al dente”, firm and elastic. Pasta was traditionally dried in the open air exposed to the sun, but due to weather variability Filippo G. De Cecco, in 1889, perfected the first warm-air drying plant, contributing to the best way of drying pasta to preserve its flavour and quality and to guarantee fresh semolina all the time, they grind the wheat in their own mill right next to the pasta factory.

You can notice the difference among their pasta style and others only by running your finger over them. Their pasta is rough to the touch because of the bronze-drawing cut method, making the pasta naturally rough, porous and being able to absorb the different types of sauces.

 

Pastificio G. Di Martino – best gourmet pasta

Di Martino pasta, since 1912 - family run for 3 generations - creating recipes with their pure local spring waters and the best 100% Italian durum wheat with spring water from the Lattari mountains. Their Gragnano pasta is of course extruded through bronze dies and slowly dried at unusually low temperature yields a very rough pasta surface and texture.

Di Martino collaborates with Italian designer Dolce & Gabbana for their packaging design, special edition designs with lively Mediterranean flair through colours, symbols and monuments celebrating Italian excellence. 

 

Our Runner Ups

Monograno Felicetti - organic single wheat pasta

Monograno (single grain): the name in itself says everything, a single type of wheat, a single mill that grinds it into flour, a single goal: quality. From field to table, the wheat is minimal processing, preserving its distinctive natural qualities. Their secret is their water, crystal clear and fresh, it is pure and uncontaminated as it streams into the pasta factory from their own Dolomite mountain spring. They are patiently mixed to form a dough that retains the full character and soul of its ingredients. 

Kamut Khorasan wheat is the ancestor of modern durum wheat, they use grains coming exclusively from certified organic farming to create a premium pasta with a delicate fragrance of white flowers and freshly shelled nuts. Its taste combines unmistakable hints of pine and macadamia nuts with subtle nuances of edible flowers. Processed with high altitude water and air, without altering the natural qualities of the raw ingredients. 

 

Tinkyáda – Vegan pasta

Tinkyáda rice pasta: Being a pasta lover and vegan was difficult until the arrival of this Canadian pasta brand. Their compromise is the customer’s satisfaction, matching the joy of good eating with a healthy style. Their pasta is not made with wheat and eggs, but with rice grains, being cholesterol free, vegan and gluten free. Tinkyada rice pasta has an amazing texture and taste, being simple to prepare, light and totally original.

 

Win Pasta for a Year!

In honour of World Pasta Day you can win Garofalo pasta for one year! Enter between October 25 – 31, 2020 by visiting our Instagram account, ‘like’ the Garofalo pasta post and be sure to follow @pusaterisfoods, @martellifoods and @pastagarofaloca. Then tag anyone and everyone who you know loves pasta, each tag is an entry. Then, share the contest post on your story for an extra bonus entry. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on November 1, 2020. See the post for full contest details. Good luck!