Food & Wine
This new pasta is whacky but sustainable
The way we make our pasta is being challenged, with researchers developing a style inspired by flat-packed furniture.
Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) have developed a flat kind of pasta that becomes a more conventional shape as it cooks.
This approach could make pasta production more sustainable, with potential savings on packaging, transportation and energy costs, while tasting like the food we all know and love.
By taking advantage of the expanding and softening that occurs when pasta is boiled, the scientists were able to create flat pasta that turns into rigatoni-like tubes, fusilli-like spirals, and long noodles.
Ye Tao, one of the researchers involved in the project, tested the flat-pack pasta on a hiking trip and found it didn’t break en route and could be cooked on a portable stove while camping.
“The morphed pasta mimicked the mouthfeel, taste and appearance of traditional pasta,” she said.
Since traditional pasta can be difficult to package and take up a lot of space, the researchers hope their pasta can become a more sustainable option.
“We were inspired by flat-packed furniture and how it saved space, made storage easier and reduced the carbon footprint associated with transportation,” said Lining Yao, director of the Morphing Matter Lab at CMU’s School of Computer Science.
“We decided to look at how the morphing matter technology we were developing in the lab could create flat-packed pasta that offered similar sustainability outcomes.”
The researchers also applied their pasta-making technique, published in the journal Science Advances, to swelling silicon sheets and believe it could be useful in the world of robotics and biomedicine.