Would you be surprised to hear that noodles are not indigenous to Italy? It’s likely the first noodle was brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo — he is said to reference a dish that sounds much like lasagna in his writings Travels of Marco Polo. The first written reference to noodles is in the East Han Dynasty around 25-220 B.C. Physical evidence supports China as the noodle’s birthplace. Archaeologists in northwest China’s Qinghai province found boiled noodles made from millet that are said to be the oldest noodle-like remains found to date. Chinese noodles vary little in shape but a lot in ingredients. The shapes are generally long strands that differ in thickness and come flattened or round, but the main ingredient can be rice flour, mung bean starch or wheat and eggs. Italian pasta is almost always made from durum wheat, but comes in a wide variety of shapes. There are long, round pastas, like spaghetti and vermicelli; long flat pastas, like fettuccine and linguine; and innumerable shapes of short pastas, like orecchiette (“little ears”), gemelli (“twins”) and the most familiar macaroni. Almost every culture has a noodle of some sort. In Germany and Hungary, spaetzle. In Greece, orzo. In Poland, pierogi. The list goes on, and with good reason: Pasta’s affordability, shelf life and versatility make it truly a superfood. And did we mention delicious. Noodles absorb and take on the flavors of whatever sauce we add to them, not limited to heavy, cream sauces. Here are 23 light and flavorful pasta recipes that will be just great through spring and summer.

Over at Spoon University, Amanda is serving up a linguine with basil and tomatoes dish that cooks in one pot in fifteen minutes. Great food, little cleanup. We like!

One thing cooks love about pasta that’s not often discussed is the many ways you can reuse noodle leftovers. Beyond ho-hum casseroles, folks are frying them into fritters, baking them into breads and pies, grilling them in sandwiches, and even topping pizzas with them.

What clever things do you do with leftover pasta? Tag us on Instagram @britandco.

(Photo via Abigail Wang/Spoon University)