Israeli couscous with vegetables, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and parsley. Israeli couscous with vegetables, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and parsley. Israeli couscous with vegetables, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and parsley. (Photo: Lapina Maria / Shutterstock)

7 different types of pasta to discover

These interesting entrées aren't your mama's spaghetti.

In the midst of juice bars and organic delis, sometimes you just want carby comfort food. You're not the only one. Cooks have been serving delectable pasta long before the first kale chip came out of the oven. We only see a handful of pasta varieties on grocery shelves, but there are actually hundreds of interesting varieties from around the world. Here's a sampling: 

1. Fideuà, paella's rival

noodles with seafood stewFideua is a  popular warm-weather pasta dish made with short lengths of dry pasta called fideus. (Photo: Dulce Rubia/Shutterstock)

This pasta dish was invented in Gandia, Spain, where it was used as a substitute for rice in paella. The city of Gandia now hosts a yearly Fideuà International Contest in which participants showcase both traditional Fideuà recipes and more modern preparations.


2. Kheer, the original rice pudding

Kheer rice dessertKheer is also known as Payasam, meaning "nectar," in Tamil. (Photo: graphia/Shutterstock)

This creamy Indian pasta pudding is popular in celebrations and festivals. It's made by boiling rice, wheat or tapioca with milk and sugar, and it can be flavored with cardamom, raisins or nuts. It was invented more than 2,000 years ago and may have inspired English rice pudding.  


3. Couscous, the pearl of pasta

Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut SquashIsraeli couscous with roasted butternut squash, preserved lemons, onions, toasted pine nuts, cinnamon, parsley and raisins. (Photo: Carmen/Flickr)

Israeli couscous was invented by the food company Osem to help feed immigrants that flocked to the country in the 1950s. The company's recipe —rolling hardwheat flour into small, dense balls and roasting them — became a national staple. Today, Israeli-style pearl couscous is served in many countries, including the United States. 


4. Spaetzle, medieval mac 'n cheese

Spaetzle with melted cheese in panSpaetzle is made in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Alsace and South Tyrol. (Photo: sfeichtner/Shutterstock)

Cooks originally shaped this German pasta by hand. Though no one knows its exact origin, historians have found this dish in medieval illustrations and 18th-century texts. There are a variety of ways to make it; some cooks even enrich the flour with minced pork liver. 


5. Pelmeni, perfect for cabin fever

Pelmeni dumplingsPelmeni dumplings may have been inspired by Chinese potstickers. (Photo: Letterberry/Shutterstock)

Siberians invented these dumplings, which makes sense: these pasta pockts are a good way to preserve meat for long, cold winters. Plus, who doesn't want dumplings when your world has basically been a block of ice for six months?


6. Japchae, the dish that won the king's favor

Korean sweet potato noodles Japchae is a Korean pasta dish made with vegetables, mushrooms and beef garnished with slices of fried egg and sesame seeds. (Photo: Paul_Brighton/Shutterstock)

Korean sweet potato pasta is usually stir-fried with meat or vegetables and flavored with soy sauce. The dish was invented by a Japanese liege who served it to his king. The king was so happy with the pasta, he promoted the liege to hojo panseo, which translates to Secretary of the Treasury. 


7. Pad See Ew, the wise person's Pad Thai

Pad See Ew'Pad See Ew' translates to 'fried with soy sauce.' (Photo: farbled/Shutterstock)

Those with inferior taste buds sometimes mix this up with Pad Thai, but Pad See Ew is in a different league. This big, flat pasta is stir-fried with broccoli, eggs and meat. It's one of those dishes that you could consider either healthy or dessert-as-dinner, depending on how fed up with dieting you are. 

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7 different types of pasta to discover
These interesting entrées aren't your mama's spaghetti.