Marco Polo, the great Italian explorer is rumored to have brought back with him from his fabled visits to China, noodles, which became the pasta that Italy is famed for today. To be more specific, the legend is that he brought back macaroni, which is today a generic term for all dried nourishing pastas made from hard wheat (which the Chinese did not cultivate or consume). Basically, the idea is that he brought back dried “filamentous” pasta or noodles.

If this is legend instead of fact, why would such a legend have been created?

The answer is actually very simple. There are only two areas in the world where noodles, in the time after Polo, were a staple food. China (and her Far East neighbors), and Italy.

Everything in between the huge land of Eurasia…no noodles. It stands to reason, therefore, that there must be some connection between the noodles of Asia and the noodles of Italy. And the only obvious connection is Marco Polo., Italy absolutely does not embrace the legend of Marco Polo and his pasta. Nor do we have any reference mentioned in The Travels of Marco Polo a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo, describing Polo’s travels through Asia between 1271 and 1295, and his experiences at the court of Kublai Khan.

The most accepted theory is that the Arab invasions of the 8th Century brought a dried noodle-like product to Sicily. This early pasta was made using flour from durum wheat, which Sicily specialized in. Under Italian law, dry pasta – or pasta secca – can only be made from this type of wheat, and the vast bulk of pasta is still made in Italy

In this recipe we will prepare a dish with the pasta, Roux blanc and Italian Béchamel Sauce. This we will make into the delizioso White Sauce Pasta with Mushrooms. I learnt this recipe from my younger Brother’s wife Parul.




1 cup



½ tea spoon



½ tea spoon

Olive oil is best, however vegetable oil may be used as well


4 cups



White Roux



1 tea spoon


Wheat flour


2 tea spoon

Roux is made from equal butter and Maida in “weight”.


White Sauce (Italian Béchamel Sauce)


1 tea spoon



1 inch

Finely chopped


3 cups

Boil the milk and let it sit to cool.


1 tea spoon


Red chilli flakes

½ tea spoon


Black Pepper powder

¼ tea spoon



½ tea spoon



3 slices



200 to 250 gms

Keep the mushrooms in the sun for an hour or two. The mushrooms will absorb Vitamin D and your health will benefit.

There would be no difference in taste though.


Cook the Pasta

  1. In a deep pan, boil the water.
  2. In the boiling water, add the pasta, salt and oil.
  3. Boil the paste for approx 5 minutes.
  4. Drain the pasta and keep the water aside.

Sauté the mushroom

  1. Heat a kadai and add one tea spoon butter
  2. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the mushroom
  4. Sauté for approx 5 minutes
  5. Remove the mushroom and keep it aside

Prepare the White Roux (Roux blanc)

Roux is a base sauce in international cuisines, originally French, composed of varying ratios of flour and fat (usually butter), useful for making sauces, and for thickening soups or gravies. The benefits of using a roux include: It does not have to be cooked very long to remove a floury taste, clumps of flour are removed, and it creates unique flavors.

  1. In the same kadai, add 2 tea spoon of butter. Melt it. Make sure the butter melts however does not turn brown.
  2. Add the maida and blend till smooth. for about 2 to 3 minutes. Take care that the colour remains white.

Prepare the Italian Béchamel Sauce

White Sauce is originally an Italian Renaissance recipe which became popular by its French name: Béchamel Sauce.

Bechamel sauce is one of the easiest sauces to make. The only thing that could go wrong is creation of lumps. Keep on stirring while adding the milk. If you still notice lumps, just use a hand blender or a whisk.

  1. In the kadai, add the white roux.
  2. Add the milk and cook for approx 4 minutes. Keep on stirring to remove any lumps


  1. Reduce to low flame.
  2. Add the oregano, red chili flakes, black pepper and salt.
  3. Add the sautéed mushrooms.
  4. Add the pasta
  5. Mix well
  6. In case the pasta is too thick we can use the pasta water we had kept aside.
  7. Add the cheese
  8. Mix well

Serve hot preferably with garlic bread.


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