Inside Pastificio's Kitchen

so... what's that pasta called?


Yup. This pretty much sums up what happens when you're trying to name different types of pasta! I mean, let's face it - there are just toooooooo many! In fact, according to ITALY magazine, it is estimated that around 350 different types of pasta exist! Even more, many pastas have different names! In Italy alone, the names of pastas vary with every region and/or province. To make things even more complicated, many commercial manufacturers invent new pasta shapes or even change the names of current pastas. I mean, that's just mind blowing. But, all the more fascinating!


For those who follow Pastificio on instagram, you might be aware that we recently posted a story that encouraged our followers to participate in a "Name that Pasta" quiz! Obviously done for only fun and games, it was actually quite interesting to see the responses of people. We thought the best way to spark more intrigue was to write a post. More specifically, we wanted to describe some pastas that you might not have known even existed - all from the Emilia-Romagna region, of course. So let's get to it!


Ahhh, so who's matti (crazy) for those tortellini? Or, shall I say bonanza for those balanzoni?

Balanzoni, otherwise often describe as "tortellini matti," are fresh stuffed pasta typical of the city of Bologna. It's name derives from "la maschera" of Bologna named Dottore Balanzone. Back in the 1600, a

"maschera," or mask, was a character of the "commedia dell'arte." Dottore Balanzone belonged to the group known as the "old ones."


Originally, this pasta was consumed during the period of "carnivale," or carnival. Luckily for us, today it can be found during any period of the year. The pasta is referred to as "tortellini matti" because it was made with the leftover filling of traditional tortellini. It has a striking green color, as the dough is made with spinach. Today, the "ripieno," or filling, is made with fresh ricotta, spinach, mortadella or "lombo di maiale" (pork loin), egg and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Balanzoni are typically tossed in a browned butter and sage sauce, but can often be found tossed in a cream or mascarpone based sauce, or that of sausage or prosciutto. Sounds super yummy!


Oh goodness gracious! That's leaves an iffy image in my head! Garganelli - we're referring to this pasta. You know where the name comes from? 😳😳

The name derives from the word "garganel" of the romagnolo dialect. It means........wait for it........the esofogus of the chicken! Hope that doesn't gross too many of you out because this pasta has nothing to do with the chicken's esofogus. It was just named after the word since its shape resembles that of a chicken's esofogus! Or, so it seemed!

There is still an ongoing dispute about this pasta's origins. The more accredited version claims that the pasta first appeared in the 1700s. More specially, in the year of 1725, in the town of Imola, during a New Year's celebration in the home of Cardinal Cornelio Bentivoglio d'Aragona, papal legate to Romagna. So, its' said that the Cardinal's main cook had invented the pasta while resolving a culinary mistake. During the preparation of the traditional cappelletti, a few pasta squares remained without stuffing. With guest seated at the table, the cook acted quickly by taking a twig from the woodshed and a weaver's comb - a instrument present in most homes during that time - and passing the squares of pasta over the comb as the corners were wrapped around the twig to close the shape. The weaver's comb gave the pasta its characteristically rigid form. They were then supposedly tossed in a broth that was already prepared. Talk about last minute kitchen saves!


Garganelli with Radicchio and Prosciutto

The second, less accredited version, was that the pasta was in fact invented many years prior by the cook of Caterina Sforza, countess of Forlí. Much like the first version, this cook was left without the filling of the cappelletti. Only this time, it was supposedly eaten by a cat! Now, whatever one may believe, the important thing was that this pasta slowly became a typical pasta of Romagna. As described in the first rendition, this pasta was historically consumed in a capon or beef broth spiced with nutmeg. Today, the pasta is generally tossed in a meat ragú or heavier sauces, such as pumpkin and sausage or radicchio and prosciutto.


Gramigna, if ya know what I meanya. Wow, that's pretty corny. Anyways, on to the next pasta! Gramigna. Unfortunately, this is a very uncelebrated pasta within Italy. In fact, many Italians might not have even heard of it. Either way, it is actually quite difficult to find outside the area of its origin. Gramigna is typical of Modena and Bologna, however, can be found in Marche and Friuli Venezia Giulia, as well. Its form can be described as a short, slightly twisted bucatino. Some might say that it resembles, and therefore was named after, the tiny seeds of the Gramigna grass, one of the most common grasses. However, that is highly debatable given there are no recorded stories on its origins. In fact, it's almost like a lost soul at sea. It was originally an egg-pasta, however, now-a-days, its durum-wheat substitute is more common for its convenience. Gramigna is typically tossed in a sausage ragú, either "bianca," cream base, or with the addition of some tomato sauce or concentrate. As said before, this pasta can be quite difficult to find; therefore, if you would like to try it, the best bet is to search the internet. Check out our previous post for a recipe if you're interested. These curly-qs sure look delicious!


And last, but not least, we have lasagne!

By far one of the oldest and most controversial types of pasta. Controversial in the sense that there is a continuous dispute over its origins: did the Italians really invent lasagne? Or, was it the Greeks? What about the British? For the sake of argument, let's just stick with the Italians! 😃


Lasagne dates back all the way to the Roman times. The ancient Romans ate a dish known as ‘lasanum." "Lasanum" is said to be the name of the kind of "pot" it was cooked it. This dish was made with a thin sheet of dough made of wheat flour, which was baked directly on the fire or in an oven. It is also known that during times of poverty, other types of flours were used in its preparations, such as farro, rye, and chestnut flour. From the Middle Ages onwards, recorded recipes describe a dish more similar to that of our present day lasagne. A dish that consisted of pasta sheets that were interlayered with meat and cheese and then cooked. It wasn’t until around 1800s, when tomatoes were introduced into the Italian cuisine, that the dish truly resembled what we know of lasange. During this time, more notably in the south of Italy, this dish was generally prepared for meals of special guests.


Hmmm... we're getting hungry talking about all these pastas! If you're looking for some delicious lasagne, make sure to come to our store and stock up on our famous lasagne. Not only do we have traditional meat lasagne, we have a variety to choose from, such as spinach-vegetable and our Primavera lasagne. Check out the details here.



We would love to continue, but it's getting late and almost time for dinner. Hmmm... What should we make tonight?! Any ideas?


Alla prossima! Till next time!

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