Pasta vs. Noodles: Difference and Comparison

The definitions of pasta and noodles overlap causing a lot of confusion amongst people. Pasta is basically shaped dough that’s mostly made using durum wheat. The word pasta may also be used to refer to a complete dish. For example, stuffed dough may be pasta e.g. ravioli but it wouldn’t be considered a noodle.

On the other hand, noodles are longer, thinner, and usually coiled. They can be made out of different starchy materials like rice, beans, and potatoes.

Both pasta and noodles are cooked by boiling in water. These two taste similar, look more or less the same and have a bunch of other similarities. That’s why most people find it easier to group pasta and noodles together and use the terms interchangeably. But that’s not right.

It would also be correct to say that all noodles are pasta but not all kinds of pasta are noodles. Confusing right? Well, don’t worry. We are going to look at what these two have in common and their differences in depth. But before we do that, let’s look at the Italian favorite and the Japanese mainstay separately.

What is the Difference between Pasta & Noodles

Pasta

Most people think that pasta originated from Italy but it actually came from Arabia. It’s the name pasta that comes from Italy and means paste. The name describes the whole process of making the dough that makes pasta in various shapes and sizes. Vegetable extracts may also be added while making pasta.

Pasta is easily accessible across the globe world with different versions of pasta throughout. Pasta has distinct names and is meant to be used for specific types of meals. There are more than 200 types of pasta available in over 300 different shapes. This delicacy has become a cornerstone of ethnic cuisines everywhere.

Pasta is made with unleavened dough. If you’re making your fresh pasta from scratch it’s okay to add eggs but refrigerate it for later use up to a couple of days. However, the most common type of pasta is dried pasta that doesn’t have eggs. Dried pasta can be stored on the shelves for longer – it has a shelf life of up to 2 years.

The goal when cooking pasta is to get a firm product that isn’t mushy. Aim for something that holds its shape, remains crispy but is still edible. Crunchy and undercooked is not what you want to end up with unless you plan on freezing the pasta for later use.

Salt is added to the water during boiling to enhance the flavor. It may also be added to the pasta sauce. The stage at which you add the salt impacts the final product in terms of how the whole dish is brought together.

Pasta dishes can be served cold or warm in a variety of sauces.

Noodles

Noodles re versatile, filling, delicious, and complement an array of flavors. They can be made from different materials like rice. Just like pasta, noodles can also begin as a dough. The only difference is that the flour used to make noodles is finer resulting in a smooth textured product. This explains why cooked noodles are very soft that you don’t need to chew before swallowing.

The name noodle is coined from two words “nudel” and “nodus” which are German and Latin respectively meaning that they’re made from unleavened dough and prepared in boiling water. Noodles are believed to have originated in China during the Eastern Han Dynasty.

Once you’re done mixing all the ingredients and kneading the dough, roll it thin either by hand or using a rolling pin. The noodles are then sliced into their final shape. You can decide to cook the noodles immediately or store them for later preparation. Noodles can be fired, boiled to be served with vegetables or served in soup – hot or cold. Thanks to their denseness, noodles can be added to soups and casseroles without becoming mushy.

Noodles vary greatly in taste depending on how much salt is added during the making of the dough and what they’re made from. The salt is helpful in softening the gluten proteins making it possible for the structure of the finished product to be malleable. Although they come in various shapes, noodles are frequently seen in long thin strips or rods.

Looking for a perfect source of carbohydrates for a boost of energy? Noodles will sort that out for you.

Differences between noodles and pasta

To the layman, noodles and pasta seem interchangeable. However, there are several differences between these two dishes. Here is a list of the top differences between them

  1. Flour

Noodles are made using finer varieties of flour while pasta is made with harder and coarser types of flour. Soft and fine flour gives noodles that are lighter in color with a smoother feel and an extremely soft texture.

  1. Varieties

Noodles are usually categorized based on the primary ingredient that is used to make them. There are rice noodles, potato noodles, etc.

Pasta exists predominantly in dried and fresh varieties. Dried pasta is made without eggs and is not perishable. Fresh pasta is made with eggs and should be refrigerated.

  • Salt

Salt is added to noodles to soften the gluten protein which makes it easier for the dough to come together well. Traditional pasta is salt-free and salt is usually added when cooking to add flavor.

  1. Shape

The variety of shapes for noodles is considerably less while pasta comes in every shape imaginable.

Noodles exist in many shapes but are commonly available in thin rod shapes. On the other hand, pasta exists in more than 300 different shapes which are quite excessive. They have different names and are used to make specific dishes.

  1. Sauce/ broth

Noodles are often served in broths that can be either hot or cold with various meats and vegetables. Pasta is almost always served with different types of sauces. The most common types of sauces used as accompaniments for pasta are tomato-based and cream-based pasta sauces.

  1. Recipes

Noodles can be cooked in different ways; they can be fried, served in soup, cooked in water or broth and then drained. Pasta is generally cooked by boiling.

  • Fullness and cost

Noodles are quite filling and affordable. Pasta is also filling but is relatively expensive.

Comparison of the nutritional values

Noodles and pasta have a variety of nutrients in different amounts. People eat noodles and pasta depending on their preferences. People with gluten sensitivities prefer noodles over pasta since they do not contain any gluten. On the other hand, pasta is enriched with more nutrients.

Here is a comparison of the nutrients in 100g of plain cooked noodles and 100g of plain cooked pasta

 

Nutrients Noodles Pasta
Calories 138 131
Calories from fat 17 9
Calcium 1% of recommended intake/day 1% of recommended intake/day
Iron 3% of recommended intake/day 6% of recommended intake/day
Fat 2g 1g
Saturated fat 0g 0g
Trans fat 0g 0g
Cholesterol 29mg 33mg
Sodium 5mg 6mg
Carbohydrates 25g 25g
Proteins 5g 5g

 

Proteins, carbohydrates, and fiber

Pasta generally has higher protein levels than regular noodles. Pasta has 4g of protein per half a cup while noodles have 0.8g.

Pasta and noodles are rich sources of complex carbohydrates so they release energy over a while instead of a sudden boost. This is why athletes are advised to have either of these dishes the night before the actual sports day.

The fiber content in pasta and noodles varies very slightly between pasta and noodles. While pasta has 21.6g of carbohydrates and 1.3g of fiber, the same amount of noodles have 21.91g and 0.9g of carbohydrates and fiber respectively.

Fat and Calories

Calorie and fat content in pasta and noodles are quite similar. Pasta has 111 calories per half a cup and noodles have 96 calories.

Both pasta and noodles contain a little fat most of which is not unhealthy. Pasta has 0.65g per half a cup while the same amount of noodles has 0.5g of fat.

Vitamins

Enriched pasta has more vitamins as compared to noodles. The added vitamins include folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin. One major difference is the level of folic acid. Pasta has 83mg of folic acid while noodles only contain 3mg per half a cup. Folic acid is very important for pregnant women as it helps in the development of the fetus.

Pasta contains more thiamin and riboflavin in tenfold and double the niacin in noodles.

Minerals

Enriched pasta also contains iron which is 4% of the ideal value per day, which is 8 times higher than noodles.

Pasta also contains more calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. All these are very important in maintaining stable blood pressure, controlling muscle contractions, supporting a person’s immunity, and maintaining healthy bones and teeth.

Conclusion

Noodles and pasta undoubtedly have so many differences but they also have so much in common. At first, they may seem interchangeable but by now it’s quite clear that they’re intended to serve different purposes. Preparing a meal meant to be made with pasta using noodles would be very disappointing and the vice versa is true as well.

All in all, both dishes are delicious and will keep appealing to many peoples’ appetites generations to come.

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