The basics of a great food

Pasta is versatile, healthy, tasty and easy to work with.

There's a good reason pasta is high on nearly everyone's list of favorites. It provides the base for hundreds of delicious recipes, whether drowned in sauce or chopped up plain in a salad, or even as an ingredient in a stir-fry.

You can even easily make your own pasta from a simple recipe, aided by a pasta maker. Simple mixtures with a bit of kneading, followed by stretching, slicing and coloring (or not) provide for a dozen different types.

All pasta is made from a simple flour and egg mixture, blended together and sliced in different ways. Thin and long or short and tubed, it offers structural variety and a taste that is delightful even plain with just a sprinkle of olive oil.

Since it's made from flour and egg, pasta makes for the perfect ingredient for many healthy recipes. Whether combined with a slab of fish that's chock full of omega-3 fatty acids, or just served plain with a fine glass of red wine, this simple food can be great for your heart.

Because of the gluten and starch that threads throughout pasta, along with its geometry and combination of stiffness and flexibility, this versatile food makes for a great base. Sauces cling to the starch, the geometry allows for creative stuffing and the flexibility makes possible a wide variety of attractive serving options.

Pasta has an ancient and honorable history. While stories of being introduced to the West by Marco Polo are mythical, it nevertheless has graced kitchens for centuries. Ancient Chinese certainly had a hundred uses for this flexible food. The Etruscans, progenitors to the modern Italians, were no stranger to the delights of pasta.

Pasta can serve as a great comfort food, without being high in fat. It can be used in the most sophisticated dishes that justify high prices at elegant 4-star restaurants. Pasta is found in a hundred forms from all around the world.

Everything from simple alphabet soup or chop suey to a more complex Tortelli di Zucca can be found along one's travels. The latter is common in Mantova at the base of the Apennines and a trip to Italy would not be complete without trying some. But even a simple macaroni and cheese at home can be plenty satisfying on a cold evening.

For such a simple to make food, pasta has an amazing variety of uses in cooking. At the same time, it tastes great and satisfies. How many foods can say that?

Chorizo, tomato pasta.

Pasta with chorizo an tomato.

Shrimp pasta.