THE WASHINGTON POST – Any regular social media user has likely seen the #pastachips trend by now. For the uninformed, pasta chips are precisely what they sound like: pasta that has been fried until crisp.
It’s also tossed with various seasonings and used as a mechanism for dipping marinara, whipped feta and more. On TikTok alone, the hashtag had garnered 581.9 million views the last time I checked. Reviews have been a mix of positive and negative, so we had to try it for ourselves to issue a verdict.
Pasta chips are made by first boiling the noodles until al dente and then frying them in an air fryer or on the stovetop (Some TikTok users say you can also bake them).
“I’ve been on TikTok for almost two years and I’ve tried so many trends,” blogger @feelgoodfoodie blogger Yumna Jawad who got 23.4 million views of her pasta chips video, told Good Morning America. “This one may be one of the most fascinating ones because you are essentially taking something crunchy, making it soft and then making it crunchy again.” (I’m not sure if “crunchy” is the best descriptor for uncooked dry pasta.)
But how did pasta chips come to be? One of the first TikTok posts seems to have come from food blogger Emily Chan, also known as @bostonfoodgram, who posted her video on April 16. “I didn’t think this recipe would be popular at all,” Chan told Today. “I think people love new dishes they can pop into the air fryer. And the ingredients are ones that most people already have in their kitchens, so you don’t usually have to buy anything extra to try them out.”
Chan got her inspiration from a recipe posted on Delish in September 2019 and developed by the site’s then food director Lauren Miyashiro. “For the life of me, I really can’t remember where I was inspired,” Miyashiro shared via email. “I did, however, develop a copycat Olive Garden fried lasagna recipe, and everyone went crazy over that recipe. So I’m guessing the whole fried pasta concept just spiralled a bit from there… What I can say is that every time they were made in the kitchen, they were devoured in minutes.”
While the fried lasagna is from a couple years earlier, Olive Garden entered the pasta chip game in 2018 when it offered a loaded version a la nachos ahead of the Super Bowl. And the pasta and breadsticks chain isn’t the only restaurant to have discovered fried pasta.
After some TikTok users commented that their favourite restaurants served pasta chips, claiming them to be a thing in Louisiana, I discovered that establishments including The Chimes and Copeland’s serve them with spinach artichoke dip; Copeland’s said in an Instagram post that it has been serving them for decades.
Still, another fried pasta has been served in the United States for nearly a century: toasted ravioli. A St Louis specialty, toasted ravioli are typically beef- or cheese-filled pasta that have been breaded, deep-fried, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and served with marinara sauce for dipping. While it’s hotly debated who invented this culinary masterpiece, toasted ravioli have been around since the 1930sor 1940s.
Delish acknowledges this predecessor to pasta chips in its recipe’s headnote, but I wonder if any of the social media creators know about this far superior version of fried pasta thanks to its flavourful filling instead of just a mouthful of crunch. (Having gone to college in St Louis, I’m speaking from lots of experience.)
As for the unstuffed pasta chips in question, they have a satisfying crunch to them – like a heftier version of the crispy bits on the edges of a tray of lasagna – that I admittedly enjoyed snacking on as I fried batch after batch of pasta. And, of course, it tastes good because it’s fried and (in my case) tossed with finely grated Parmesan cheese, Italian season, garlic powder, salt and pepper, but it was definitely not worth the dirty dishes it created. I am dreading cleaning up the kitchen after this experiment. Granted, using an air fryer – which I do not own – would have saved some of the hassle, but it would still require boiling the pasta and too many tools to justify the outcome.
At the end of my testing, I snacked on a few more pasta chips after snapping a couple photos, but knew I wouldn’t eat the rest if I kept them around. So instead of tossing them in the trash, I doused my batch of pasta chips in jarred marinara sauce and threw it in the oven in the hope of rehydrating it, which actually worked – partially salvaging the time and food wasted on a not-so-novel TikTok trend.
Would I grab a handful of pasta chips if served them at a friend’s place or out at a restaurant? Gladly. Will I ever make them at home again? Definitely not. But if you still want to try frying pasta at home, I’d point you to toasted ravioli. Or if you’re looking for something with a nice crisp on top of the crunch, just eat potato chips instead.