Vermicelli is a type of pasta that is made from semolina flour. It is very thin and can be used in a variety of dishes. The word "vermicelli" comes from the Italian word "verme", which means "worm." This is because the original vermicelli pasta was very thin and resembled worms. Few people know the origins of vermicelli, a pasta that Italians have enjoyed for centuries. In this article, we will trace the history of vermicelli from its 14th-century beginnings to its present-day popularity.
What Is Vermicelli?
Vermicelli or "little worms" is a pasta made from semolina flour and water. It is extruded through a die to form long, thin strands of dough that are then cut to the desired length.
The ticker version of vermicelli is called vermicelloni, best served with meat sauces. Vermicelli or strand pasta can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, and main courses.
Vermicelli is made from durum wheat semolina, which is milled from hard wheat kernels. The wheat semolina is mixed with water to form a dough, which is then extruded through a die to create long, thin strands of pasta. The strands of pasta are then cut to the desired length.
Vermicelli can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, and main courses. It can be cooked in boiling water or broth, and it can also be baked or fried. Vermicelli can be served with sauce or used as an ingredient in other dishes such as casseroles or stuffing.
The Origins of Vermicelli
In English-speaking regions, it is typically thinner than spaghetti, while in Italy, it is generally thicker. The term "vermicelli" is also used to describe various types of thin noodles from Asia, such as those found in Vietnam which are akin to angel hair pasta or capellini. (source)
The first mention of a vermicelli recipe dates back to 14th-century Italy, where long pasta shapes had varying local names. The renowned Maestro Martino da Como compiled a book titled "De arte Coquinaria per vermicelli e maccaroni siciliani" which included several recipes for vermicelli that could last up to two or three years when dried in the sun.
Types of Vermicelli
This pasta comes in two main varieties: Asian (sometimes known as "rice vermicelli") and Italian (simply plain "vermicelli"). We will be discussing the difference between the two types.
- Italian vermicelli is made from durum wheat semolina. Durum wheat is a type of wheat that has a high protein content. This means that it is very hard and has a high gluten content. This type of wheat is used to make pasta because it can withstand the high temperatures of boiling water. Italian vermicelli is usually cooked in broth or used in salads.
- Asian rice vermicelli is made from a combination of rice flour and mung bean starch, which has a lower gluten content than durum wheat flour. It can be used in soups, stir-fries, or deep-fried to create crunchy noodles. Different types of Asian rice vermicelli include Bean thread noodles, cellophane noodles, glass noodles, and mung bean vermicelli which are very translucent when cooked with a chewy texture.
Vermicelli vs Angel Hair
When it comes to long, thin pasta, there are two noodles that reign supreme: vermicelli and angel hair. Both are made from durum wheat and have a similar shape. But what distinguishes these two noodles from one another?
Vermicelli and angel hair pasta both have their origins in Italy. Pasta history shows vermicelli was first mentioned in culinary literature in the 14th century.
On the other hand, Angel hair pasta wasn't mentioned anywhere until the 18th century. It's thought to have originated in Rome, where it was known as "capelli d'angelo," "capellini." or "fine hair."
One of the most significant differences between vermicelli and angel hair pasta is their width.
Vermicelli noodles are slightly thicker than angel hair noodles—typically, they measure between 0.06 and 0.09 inches in diameter. On the other hand, Angel hair noodles are much thinner; they typically measure between 0.04 and 0.05 inches in diameter.
Because of their different widths, vermicelli and angel hair noodles also have different textures. Vermicelli noodles are somewhat chewy and have a bit more body than angel hair noodles. Angel hair noodles are almost delicate in comparison; they're very tender and almost melt-in-your-mouth soft.
The Cooking Time
Another difference between vermicelli and angel hair pasta is their cooking times. Because vermicelli noodles are thicker than angel hair noodles, they take slightly longer to cook—typically between 6 and 8 minutes (compared to 2 to 5 minutes for angel hair).
If you're curious about other long pasta types like linguine or tagliatelle, and want to know their ideal cooking times and sauce pairings, be sure to check my article on 15 types of long pasta.
That being said, both pastas cook very quickly; compared to other types of pasta like spaghetti or rigatoni, vermicelli and angel hair are done in a flash!
How To Cook Vermicelli
Ah, vermicelli. The delicate, straw-like pasta is the cornerstone of many classic dishes. Whether it's a light summer salad or a hearty bowl of soup, this type of pasta always hits the spot.
But cooking this pasta can be tricky; if you don't get the ratio of water to pasta just right, you'll end up with a mushy mess. Fortunately, we're here to help. With our step-by-step guide, you'll be cooking perfect vermicelli in no time. Let's get started!
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. The general rule of thumb is that you should use one quart of water for every eight ounces of pasta. However, because vermicelli is so thin, you may want to use a little less water than usual so that it doesn't become overly soft.
- Add salt to the boiling water. This may seem counterintuitive, but trust us; it really does make a difference. Just add a pinch or two—you don't want the water to be too salty.
- Add the vermicelli to the pot and stir gently. Allow the pasta to cook for six to eight minutes, or until it is al dente—still slightly firm to the touch.
- Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and rinse it with cold water. This will stop the cooking process and remove any excess starch from the noodles.
Substitutes For Vermicelli
As a food lover, you're always on the lookout for new and interesting ingredients to add to your dishes.
While vermicelli is a delicious pasta that can be used in a variety of recipes, there are times when you may want to experiment with something new. Here are 5 substitutes for vermicelli that will give your dishes a unique twist.
- Spaghetti: Spaghetti is a type of long, thin pasta that is made from durum wheat flour and water. It is commonly used in Italian cuisine and has a similar appearance to vermicelli.
- Angel hair pasta: Angel hair pasta is a type of pasta that is made from semolina flour and water. It is thinner than spaghetti and has a delicate flavor and texture.
- Rice noodles: Rice noodles are made from rice flour and water. They are commonly used in Asian cuisine and have a chewy texture.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is a grain that can be cooked and eaten like rice or pasta. It is high in protein and has a nutty flavor.
- Couscous: Couscous is made from durum wheat semolina and water. It has a small, granular shape and can be used in place of rice or pasta in many dishes.
Tips For Cooking With It
Vermicelli can be used in a number of different dishes, including soups, salads, casseroles, and stir-fries. If you're looking for a new pasta to try, then it is a great option! Here are some tips for cooking with it:
- Make sure to cook the pasta in plenty of water. This will prevent it from sticking together and becoming clumpy.
- Don't overcook the pasta - it should only be cooked for 2-3 minutes. Otherwise, it will become mushy.
- Drain the pasta well before adding it to your dish. This will help to prevent it from becoming too stodgy.
- Consider using it in a soup or salad as it doesn't require any additional sauces or dressings. Simply add some broth or dressing to the dish and enjoy!
- If you're using the pasta in a casserole or stir-fry, make sure to add it towards the end of cooking so that it doesn't become overcooked.
People Also Ask [FAQs]
To pronounce vermicelli, say "ver-me-chel-lee".
No, vermicelli pasta is not gluten-free. It contains the protein gluten, which is found in most wheat products. Gluten helps to hold wheat, durum, kamut, barley, spelt, farro, bulgur, rye, and semolina together to maintain their shape.
Wrap Up: Vermicelli
- Semolina flour is used to make the pasta known as vermicelli, sometimes known as "little worms." It may be used in many different cuisines and is extremely thin. The Italian word "verme," which meaning "worm," is where the word "vermicelli" originates.
- It is made from durum wheat semolina and water and is extruded through a die to form long, thin strands of dough that are then cut to the desired length.
- It can be cooked in boiling water, broth, baked, or fried. It can be served with sauce or used as an ingredient in other dishes such as casseroles or stuffing.
- Cooking this pasta type may seem like a daunting task, but with our simple four-step guide, you'll be an expert in no time. Just remember to bring the water to a boil before adding salt and noodles—and resist the temptation to add too much water, as this will result in mushy pasta.
- Whether you're looking for something new to try or you need to find a substitute for vermicelli due to dietary restrictions, the 5 substitutes discussed in this article will give your dish an interesting twist.
Easy And Delicious Stir Fry Vermicelli Pasta
- 1 lb Vermicelli
- 1 Bell pepper julienne
- 1 Onion julienne
- 1 Mushroom chopped
- ½ Carrot diced
- 1 clove Garlic chopped
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil extra virgin
- 2 tablespoon Tomato sauce or Passata
- 1 teaspoon Pepper or as per your taste
- 1 teaspoon Salt or as per your taste
- Start by cooking the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to the directions in this article.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Next, add the vegetables of your choice and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until they are slightly softened. I like to use a mix of bell peppers, onions, carrots and mushrooms, but you can really use any vegetables you like.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, add the cooked pasta and a tablespoon of tomato sauce to the pan and toss everything together for another 2 mins.
- Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.