Pasta made in the country, it is the wheat that makes the difference

by Isabella Colombo and Alessandro Pellizzari

We already knew that it was a constant on our tables and also a healthy comfort food. But this long year in the throes of the pandemic, it made us rediscover the dish of the country par excellence, pasta. The data of the Union of the country Food - Iri reveal a increase in consumption which goes from + 40% in March last year, when everyone, struggling for the first time with a total lockdown, ran to stock up at the supermarket, to the constant + 10% in autumn-winter.

We have that is continued to buy more pasta than in the past, despite having understood by now that it is not necessary to fill the pantry with non-perishable products. It happened because pasta, so easy to prepare, is suitable for every season and seasoning: it represents theperfect ingredient even for those who, for the first time, have tried their hand at cooking during these long months away from canteens and restaurants. Tasty and economical product, it allows with few ingredients and little experience to create a gourmet dish, sano and creative. And also dietary: just don't overdo the doses and seasonings.

Only water and durum wheat

«If we find the fresh and stuffed one all over the world and in excellent variations, that one shoal is l 'characterizing and exclusive element of the country's cuisineHe explains Cristina Bowerman, starred chef and president of the Ambasciatori del Gusto association. «It tells our story, and it is truly of quality if it is made in the country». Not only because we have always produced it, but also because it is processed according to a protection law which sets a series of stakes, starting with the raw material: only durum wheat. All the processes to get from there to the dish are guarded by the pasta masters and validated by centuries and centuries of traditions.

But also of innovations, because technology combined with experience has made it possible to obtain ever better products. «The best pasta can be recognized by kept in cooking, from the absence of a sticky patina when you drain it, from the ability to retain the sauce ", points out the food technologist Giorgio Donegani. «Speaking of cooking: remember to always drain it well al dente. In addition to being tastier, it also has a lower glycemic index because the starch is digested more slowly, ”explains the technologist. "To the super check on the package if it is bronze drawn and produced with aslow drying at low temperature, which guarantee the highest quality. Instead, avoid packages that contain cracks and fractures or crumbs ”, explains Donegani.

Formats tell the story

In the catalogs of pasta makers there are about 400, but the usual 20 references always arrive on the shelf and 70% of the choices in the end fall only on four: spaghetti, penne, rigatoni and fusilli, the most traditional and historical variants. Spaghetti is precisely the symbol of the dry pasta that was born with them, by the Arabs of Sicily in the ninth century. While the penne was born in Genoa (the shape is that of the steel nibs of fountain pens) in 1865, by a pasta maker who patented the machine capable of diagonally cutting pasta without crushing it. In recent years, however, with the rediscovery of even more traditional values, regional formats have grown. Like the orecchiette Apulian, the trofie liguri, i paccheri campani and the busiate Sicilian. "Each format spontaneously recalls its condiment," observes Bowerman. «From the propellers that trap every type of pesto in their flaps to the squares that accompany every broth very well, giving it consistency, but leaving it the protagonist of the dish».

Today, each format is also translated in the full version which, according to Doxa data, now covers 10% of the market. "In fact, wholemeal brings many more advantages," confirms the nutritionist Simona Santini. «Compared to that made from refined semolina it is richer in fiber and more satiating. At the same time, regulates the intestine e reduces the absorption of carbohydrates and fats taken in the meal. It also has a low glycemic impact which limits the transformation of carbohydrates into fats. In general it also has more nutritional properties and, therefore, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants ». Alternating wholemeal and refined pasta is therefore a great idea, unless you suffer from irritable colon, diverticula or allergy to nickel, because in these cases the increased presence of fibers could create problems. "For the diehards of white body, however, the health effects are however obtained with light vegetable-based condiments which enrich the dish with fibers », adds Simona Santini.

Along with that made from wholemeal semolina, in the last year, pasta made from 100% peasant and so-called "ancient" grains has also grown, such as Senatore Cappelli, king of the peasant grains, whose cultivation today occupies 400% more surface than a few years ago (Coldiretti data). "These traditional grains, abandoned in the XNUMXs because they were not very productive, today they have been rediscovered. And with good reason, ”he explains Enzo Spisni, professor of Nutrition Physiology at the University of Bologna. "They are grains that are richer in protein and nutrients». The durum wheat Senatore Cappellimoreover, from a research conducted at the Gemelli Polyclinic it is more tolerated even by those suffering from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a much more frequent disorder today. This is due to the gluten structure which is more easily digested by our body.

More resistant to weeds

«Our ancient grains, unlike modern ones, are naturally resistant to weeds. And since they are grown only in the country, it is certain that they do not contain pesticides such as glyphosate, banned in Europe but still used in Canada, a large wheat exporter ”, concludes Spisni.


Senatore Cappelli durum wheat pasta has a fascinating history. He tells us about it Mauro Tonello, President of the SIS, Society of the Seed Country, the first to want its health properties to be recognized by science. The first dish most loved by the villagers can not only have different flavors and colors, but also different effects on the organism. 

Doctor Tonello, when did you try Senatore Cappelli durum wheat for the first time?

I discovered it at lunch from a friend, who told me about his difficulties in growing it: it is very tall, complex to work with, but it is worth it, it is very good. Upon tasting, I immediately thought it had a precise and strong identity. He insisted: "It is also more digestible and is good for you."

But between saying that a pasta is good and that it is good for health there is some ...

In fact, at lunch I replied: "But who says it's good for you?". Answer: the old local sages. It seemed to my wife and me too, after adopting her at home. Then I met a great gastroenterologist who told me: "It will be the placebo effect, personal beliefs also have physical reverberations, popular wisdom is not scientific proof". So I went to my mom (92 years old and unaware of everything) and I made her try the pasta Senator Cappelli The Seasons of the country. A month later he calls me back and says: do you bring me more? I digested better, I feel lighter, I sleep well. It couldn't be the placebo effect.

So he turned to science

I wanted you to tell me if the local legend about my pasta was true. Antonio Gasbarrini, great expert on hypersensitivity to gluten, he immediately explained to me the complexity of a scientific study that is usually done for drugs. Long, complicated, with unpredictable results, but I was convinced that my wheat had an edge. I bet and I won. The study, published in the scientific journal Nutrients, confirmed that the product is more digestible even for non-celiac gluten-sensitive people, And that pasta is not all the same.

This pasta costs more

About 4 euros per kilo, against the euro and a half of a good industrial pasta: an 80 g dish costs a few cents more.

Does color matter?

Yes, our intense yellow is a trademark, because it is that of a single grain, not mixed with others, pure and certified.

How do you make sure there is no contamination with other grains?

With very strict controls starting from the cleaning of the threshing machines, up to the use of the satellite to control the processes and movements within our borders. Senator Cappelli it is an ancient grain that has adopted the most modern technologies to be certified for the grain.

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