Pizza, pasta: the perfect, carb-o-licious couple. Sure, we love to Eat The Pizza, but it's only fitting that we show pasta it's due honor—especially on National Linguine Day! Which is today, by the way. (After all, we did celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day...)
Just like every country across the globe has its own way of enjoying pizza, pretty much every country has its own unique version of pasta! There's the classics like spaghetti Bolognese, but there’s also macaroni and cheese in the U.S., ramen in Japan, pad thai in Thailand, couscous in North Africa, fideua in Spain, spaetzle in Germany, kheer in India—and now, we bring you PIZZA LINGUINI. Get ready for some pasta-riffic pizza-fication, and probably a carb-induced coma.
We're making our own, homemade linguini noodles, tossing it in a delicious pizza-flavored sauce, and, of course, topping it off pizza-style. We've got the recipe for you below, and we highly recommend that you give this one a whirl. It’s the respectful thing to do on National Linguine Day. And pasta paired with pizza is a match made in heaven, really—two dishes sharing one delicious Italian heritage...or do they?
The History of Pasta
Pasta is a staple Italian dish, I’m sure this isn’t news to you. It’s so popular, Italians eat the most pasta out of every country in the world—an average of 60 pounds of pasta per person, per year. If all of the pasta eaten in Italy each year were measured in spaghetti noodles, they could wrap around the earth 15,000 times! Italian’s love pasta, pasta’s Italian food, surely the lovable noodles were invented in Italy, right? Well…not quite.
Some trace pasta-making back to 400 B.C., when the Etruscans lived in Italy before the Romans took over. It’s thought that the Etruscans were smashing grains with rocks and mixing them with water to create dough. There’s even a carving on a cave near Rome that supposedly shows their pasta-making process, using familiar tools, like a rolling out table, a pastry wheel, and a flour bin. But, there are some doubts about this interpretation of the carving—especially considering there aren’t many references to pasta in Italy during Roman times, after the Etruscans were conquered.
That was about 2,500 years ago, but archaeologists in China recently found a 4,000-year-old bowl of fossilized noodles. Meaning: noodles actually come from ancient Chinese cuisine! There’s even a legend that Marco Polo discovered pasta in China, ate some noodles with Kubla Khan (no biggie), and then brought the dish back with him to Italy. It’s a nice story, but it’s not true. Pasta was already around in Italy before Marco even made it to China. It’s more likely that Chinese noodles traveled westward with nomadic Arabs and trade routes, long before good ‘ol Marco Polo, until they eventually made their way to Italy.
From Noodle to Pasta: An Evolution
So, to be clear, what we call "pasta" today is notably different from the noodles that were made in ancient China. The ancient Chinese were making noodles and pasta-like dishes from certain types of millet. They eventually expanded their noodle-making to other starchy plants like the sago palm (yum), as well as grains like rice flour. Marco Polo most likely was chowing down on some sago-palm noodles—which don’t quite meet the current definition of “pasta.”
These noodles traveled to the Mediterranean and, naturally, the recipe was changed a bit. Refined durum wheat became the noodle-grain of choice, because of its long shelf-life, high gluten content, and low levels of moisture—all ideal for the perfect pasta. Unlike other noodles, what we know as pasta was born from this switch to refined durum wheat. It became the basis for traditional pasta-making in Italy and across Europe, and people were loving it. But, even with this new recipe, pasta in the Middle Ages was kinda weird. It was cooked longer and dishes might be savory, spicy, or even sweet!
Perhaps most mind-blowing of all: early pasta wasn’t served with tomato sauce—that trend didn’t catch on until centuries later! Both pasta and pizza existed before Europe had even seen a tomato. Tomatoes aren’t native to Europe, and it wasn’t until 1519 that Hernando Cortez brought the delicious fruits over from Mexico. Then, FINALLY, the iconic combo of tomatoes and pasta (and pizza) could flourish. Pasta was popular during the Renaissance as a high-class dish among wealthy aristocrats, but they couldn’t hog the carbs for too long. Eventually, pasta became an affordable, filling, every-man’s dish—and we love it just the same today.
The Art of Pasta Making
So, pasta isn't technically Chinese food. Noodles, the predecessors to pasta, came from China as far as we know. But, true pasta is indeed a culinary masterpiece of Italy and the Mediterranean region. Even the term “pasta” specifically refers to the over 600 different shapes (!) of Italian noodles, which are definitely different from ancient Chinese noodles an other noodles around the world. Refined durum wheat noodles became characteristic of Italian cuisine, and the recipe is still going strong.
The word “pasta” originally came from Greek and Latin, meaning “barley porridge” and “dough pastry cake” respectively. In Italian, the meaning of pasta transformed to mean "paste," because the dish is made by first mixing water, flour, and eggs or other ingredients to make a paste. That paste becomes a dough, which is then pressed into sheets, cut into any number of shapes, and boiled to a beautiful al dente. This is the classic way to make fresh pasta, but most of us are familiar with the dried pasta we find in boxes at the grocery store. This glorious innovation is made possible by puffing durum wheat into semolina, which dries easily and lasts longer (pretty much forever).
There are loads of different pasta types and shapes, but there are 3 main categories:
- Long cuts, like spaghetti, linguine, and fettuccine, best served with full-bodied, olive-oil based sauces and/or robust, creamy sauces.
- Short cuts, like penne and rigatoni, best served with ragù and chunky tomato or vegetable sauces.
- Soup cuts, like ditalini and acini di pepe, which are easily scooped up with a soup spoon.
So, linguine is technically meant to be served in a creamier sauce—not exactly a tomato-y pizza sauce—but we never claimed to follow rules here. Pizza knows no limits, baby.
Little Linguine Tongues, & Other Pasta Trivia
Linguine, also known as trenette or babette, is one of the popular long-cut pastas. It's kinda like fettuccine—long and flat—but linguine is (supposed to be, whoops) thinner and narrower. And yes, the traditional Italian spelling is linguine, with an E, not the Americanized linguini with an I. The word linguine from the Latin word lingua, which means tongue, and the suffix –ine, which means smaller. So, the Italian word linguine literally means “little tongues.” Which are meant to be eaten.
Turns out pretty much every pasta name out there has a translation—ranging from the logical to the totally wacko:
- Farfalle (a.k.a. bow tie noodles) means butterflies
- Spaghetti means little strings
- Ravioli means little turnips
- Vermicelli means small worms
- Orechiette means small ears
- Strozzapreti means priests’ strangler
And, of course, we couldn’t leave you without some random pasta facts:
- People ate spaghetti with their hands, up until the 16th century!
- Italy eats the most pasta worldwide, followed by Venezuela, and then Tunisia.
- In the U.S., spaghetti, penne, and rotini are the most loved shapes of pasta.
- The most popular pasta dishes are spaghetti Bolognese, macaroni and cheese, and lasagna.
- The circular pasta in SpaghettiOs is actually called anelli!
- Eating pasta actually makes you happier. Carbs help you produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter that gives you all the good feels
- In 2010, the restaurant Buca di Beppo in California made the world’s largest bowl of spaghetti by filling a swimming pool with 13,780 pounds of pasta!
Time for the Pizza Linguini (Pizzguini)
Don’t be a wet noodle on this happy holiday. Get in the kitchen, get your hands dirty, and try making your own homemade linguini noodles! We promise, you won’t regret it. Happy National Linguine Day, pizza freaks. Now get to pizza-fying!
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic paste)
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 can tomato sauce (28 oz.)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
Fresh Homemade Linguine Noodles
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 large eggs, slightly beaten
- 2-3 Tbsp water (more if needed)
Many thanks to Simple Bites for this great homemade linguine recipe!
- 1 cup mini pepperonis
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan
To make your sauce:
- In a pot over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic in a bit of oil until fragrant.
- Add tomato sauce and seasonings. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer.
To make your homemade linguine noodles:
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Create a well in the flour mixture.
- Crack the eggs into the flour well. With a fork, begin mixing the eggs and the flour mixture until a stiff dough begins to form. Add the water and continue to incorporate until a ball forms.
- Place the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands, about 5 minutes, until pasta is smooth and free of air pockets. Press your finger into your dough—if it readily springs back to the touch, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough until you reached desired thinness. Remember, if your dough wants to spring back, allow it to rest in between rolling sessions.
- Once the dough has been rolled out, trim the edges and roll it up in a jelly roll shape. Slice the roll into small rounds based on the width of noodle you desire. After each slice, unroll the cut pasta noodle and lay flat.
- Cook your fresh pasta in a large stock pot of boiling water for approximately 4 minutes, or until al dente. (Tip: Your pasta is done when it begins to float to the top of the water). Drain in a colander.
To assemble Pizza Linguine:
- Add grated parmesan into pasta sauce.
- Add homemade pasta to warm sauce by the handful, stirring to combine.
- Stir in pepperonis and mozzarella cheese.
- Toss to coat, serve, and enjoy! And, by enjoy, we mean Eat The Pizza. Linguini.
Yields a big 'ol pot of Pizza Linguini.