If you’re thinking the answer to the question is an easy, obvious one, you’re right.
Well, sort of. Eggs are the big differentiating factor between egg noodles and pasta. But it isn’t that the latter is made without them entirely (although technically it can be), rather it’s that the dough generally calls for a smaller proportion of eggs. So, in a way, pretty much all pasta is a type of egg noodle.
Now, as much as I’d love to give you a scientific, grey area-free answer like “egg noodle dough always calls for double the amount of eggs that pasta dough does,” these simple, fundamental recipes are never that cut-and-dry consistent. It’s one of those three-different-cooks-three-different-answers kind of conundrums. That being said, research suggests that many fresh pasta doughs call for about 100 grams (a little less than a cup) of flour per egg used. Whereas a recipe for egg noodles, known for the richer flavor and color their namesake contributes, might call for anywhere between three eggs per two cups of flour to two eggs and four yolks per two cups of flour.
Some would also argue that the type of flour used can be another distinguishing factor between the two. Pasta dough, as a signature, almost always calls for some proportion of semolina in addition to all-purpose (or pricy, super-fine, “00” flour, if you’re fancy), whereas egg noodles can be made with a wide variety of different flours. Pasta, on the other hand, has greater liberties when it comes to shape and size—with way too many options to list here—and so by extension, the variety of dishes that can be made from it is more expansive too. Egg noodles are basically confined to the broad, flat, thicker-textured classic noodle shape. (A big exception to this rule, of course, are the range of Chinese noodles like chow and lo mein which are also technically egg noodles.) Perhaps the limitation of the shape is why we see really only ever see egg noodles play the same recurring roles: Either baked into a casserole or as the sauce-soaking base to some kind of hearty stew.
Now, that’s enough noodling around. Basta with all the pasta talk, let’s get to the recipes already.
Wait, stop. Don’t go running for the hills just yet. Just because Mom and Dad still have nightmares of the grey, gloppy, tasteless school cafeteria version doesn’t mean all hope for tuna noodle casserole is lost. As this revamped interpretation proves, the key to deliciousness is fresh, quality ingredients (aka the good tuna packed in oil), a good crisp topping, and taking care not to overcook the egg noodles. Get our Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe.
As much as we might all love a good Osso Buco, the iconic Italian braised veal shank dish, let’s be honest: making it requires a lot of work. Like, almost deterringly so. Which is what makes this pressure-cooker interpretation so incredibly appealing. After a mere half hour, you’ve got fall-off-the-bone tender meat coated in a flavor-packed complex sauce, just waiting to be served over buttery egg noodles. Get our Pressure Cooker Osso Buco Milanese recipe. (Psst, the one-pot technique also works for the egg noodle-starring Eastern European favorite, Beef Goulash).
Of course, if you are up for an involved, marathon cooking kind of challenge, there’s always the Julia Child-favorite, Boeuf Bourguignon. We’re talking tender chuck roast cooked for hours in a red wine-spiked beef broth that is packed with herbal aromatics and flavor enhancers like mushrooms and pearl onions. You could serve it over roasted or mashed potatoes, but really, rich egg noodles are the best for soaking up all that good sauce. Get our Beef Bourguignon recipe.
The classic Russian dish gets a vegetarian makeover here, replacing the traditional ground beef with a meaty mushroom medley and hearty kale. (But don’t worry, my fellow healthy food avoiders, the slick, rich sauce stays true to its delectable sour cream and butter formula.) Get our Kale and Mushroom Stroganoff recipe.
Celebrate the other egg noodles—not those familiar short, loose spirals—with this savory soy sauce-enriched dish. Here, thin, dense Hong Kong-style egg noodles (think chow mein), are quickly pan fried and served with bean sprouts and julienned carrots and green onion for crunchy texture. Get the recipe.
In a conversation about pasta, we would be remiss not to talk about the Italian-American classic. Al dente spaghetti, sweet tomato sauce, and juicy meatballs (these happen to be a blend of ground turkey, beef, and pork), what more does one need out of a pasta dish? Get our Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe.
If you thought the original version of linguine with clams was irresistible—that garlicky-briny-lemony broth and sweet, chewy clams? yes, please—just wait until you try this surf ‘n’ turf riff featuring Mexican chorizo. Get our Linguine with Clams and Chorizo recipe.
Substituting cheese-stuffed tortellini pasta for the expected little elbow noodle in this veggie-studded Italian soup makes it a heartier, more filling option for a weeknight dinner. Get our Vegetable Minestrone with Tortellini recipe.
This completely vegetarian, seasonally-inspired play on lasagna replaces the usual meat ragu with a medley of good-for-you swiss chard and kale and tangy crème fraiche. Bonus: With no separate, additional sauce to prepare, this recipe will save you time in the kitchen, too. Get our Winter Greens Lasagna recipe.
Two Italian-American classics collide in this comfort food mash-up. This dish keeps the namesake creamy, cheesy alfredo sauce but replaces its famous partner fettuccini with tube pasta (a.k.a. ziti) and styles it as a make-ahead casserole. This version suggests shredded rotisserie chicken and broccoli florets as a filling, but feel free to get creative with tasty alternatives (prosciutto and kale, anyone?). Get our Baked Ziti Alfredo recipe.
The thing about having pasta as your star ingredient is that it really doesn’t need much in the way of supporting characters to shine. Oftentimes all you really need is the addition of a simple sauce (pesto, marinara, bolognese…hell, even just grated cheese and pepper) and—poof—dinner’s ready. But my favorite of the basic but delicious pasta recipes has to be this Bucatini all’Amatrciana: sauce-soaking hollow spaghetti tossed in a pancetta-flecked spicy tomato sauce. It takes less than 30 minutes to make so you might as well go ahead and make extra because going back for seconds is all but guaranteed. Get our Bucatini all’Amatricia recipe.
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