WHAT IS PASTA MISTA?
This blend of cuts first started as a mix of leftover odds and ends from other pastas. Traditionally this blend would have 5 different cuts of pasta. However this mix was confined to short cuts, not the longer 10 inch (26 cm) pastas like spaghetti. Also this pasta groups together cuts with the same cooking time. So you won’t normally see penne rigate and paccheri in the same bag. However if you want a range of al dente flavors, boil leftover pasta bits all together for the same amount number of minutes. Or if you’re cooking at home, add different cuts to the water at different times to get the same texture! If you have some leftover long cuts like spaghetti, just snap them into similar lengths and add to your pot. Some pasta mista mixes will focus only on smaller soup cuts like stelline or ditalini.
WHERE IS PASTA MISTA MADE?
Pasta mista is called “mmesca francesca”. This means “French mix in its’ hometown of Naples. The Neapolitan dialect is like Shakespearean English when compared to modern day Italian. This name is a reference to when the French ruled Naples several hundred years ago. So if you anger someone from Naples, and want to know how long it’ll take them to forget about it? France is way ahead of you in that line and still doesn’t know.
PASTA MISTA IS THE ITALIAN EQUIVALENT OF FRENCH TOAST?
The French are masters creating recipes that recycle other, no longer edible foods. French toast or “pain perdu” (lost bread) is one example. Pasta mista is the same, taking leftovers and turning them into something else. Baked dishes like lasagna, stovetop recipes like a pasta frittata, the pasta equivalent of french fries, or boiled leftovers in a nice salad; there is no end to the number of ways you can re-use pasta mista.
WHAT SAUCES GO WELL WITH PASTA MISTA?
If you buy a bag of pre-mixed pasta mista in the store, any pasta sauce that works with small cuts will do. If you’re just mixing broken bits and pieces from different bags in your pantry back home, then smaller pieces will cook faster then bigger ones. This can actually add an exciting range of textures to your dish. However this assumes that you’re okay with some of them being less cooked (a.k.a. al dente or crunchy by American standards). Phenomenal Cajun Chef Paul Prudhomme, buried somewhere in one of his books, wrote a great piece on mixing textures in a dish to give it added depth and character. Anyway if you’d like to see one of our recipes using pasta mista check out our Amatriciana sauce!