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Italian Pasta: A Timeline

By Chase Brightwell Published

Italy’s traceable culinary history goes back to the Roman Empire, but only within the last 250 years has pasta been widely consumed across the country. How did it happen?

Before 1100:

Pasta's origins are difficult to pinpoint, but the method of using wheat to make noodles is thought to have made its way to the Mediterranean from China around the first century. Lasagna-like noodles appear in southern Italy as early as the fourth century.

1200-1400:

As regional trade increases throughout the Mediterranean, pasta shapes such as macaroni, vermicelli, and gnocchi appear in historical texts. Sicilians and Sardinians begin to perfect the art of drying pasta by hanging it outdoors on large racks for several days. 

1400-1600:

During the Italian Renaissance, elaborate pasta preparations including rich sauces, meats, and various cheeses are available mostly to the wealthy. Pasta is often prepared with sugar and is devoid of vegetables. Pasta exports to France, Spain, and North Africa increase during the Age of Exploration.

1700-1850:

Pasta becomes a staple for southern Italians, as wheat grown in Sicily and southern Italy becomes widely available and relatively inexpensive. Pasta dishes begin to include tomatoes and vegetables, with the first known recipe that combined tomato sauce and pasta appearing in 1790.

1850-1900:

Industrialization and air pollution drive pasta production and drying into factories, increasing efficiency. Pasta becomes cheaper throughout Italy and begins to become a staple of Italian cuisine.

1900-present:

Globalization increases pasta exports throughout Europe and North America, and modern pasta preparations take root across the globe. High-temperature quick drying is introduced in the late 1900s.

An Ode to Italian Pasta

From agnolotti to ziti, there are so many types of Italian pasta to enjoy. Here’s how to shop for and prepare the perfect pot of pasta.

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JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.