YOU EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PASTA
the proper way to cook pasta?Slinging
a string of spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks
is probably not the most effective way to check for
doneness. Neither is relying on your kitchen timer.
The best way to see if your pasta is ready to eat is
to spear a piece of it while it's still boiling and
taste it. There should be a slight crunchiness on your
tooth, called al dente, when the pasta is ready.
5 - 6 quarts water of water to a rolling boil. Add 1/4
cup of salt along with a pound of your favorite pasta.
Stir to ensure that all pasta is in the water and that
the pieces are separated. Cook 7 - 8 minutes for long
cuts like spaghetti, 8 - 10 minutes for short cuts like
penne. A minute or two before your pasta is supposed
to be ready, remove a piece of pasta from the water
and bite through the pasta to see if it's done. Keep
tasting until the pasta is al dente. When it's ready,
drain the pasta in a colander and serve immediately
with your favorite sauce.
are a staggering number of pasta cuts in Italy - hundreds
of them. Most of them are named for the shapes they
resemble. Some seem to have significance only to the
regions that named them. A few of them were created
specifically for a particular type of sauce.
- Corkscrew-like twists with a hole in the middle.
- Hollow, spaghetti-like strands.
- A short, folded pasta typical of Puglia.
- A narrow, folded cut typical of Puglia.
- Small, ridged "seashells."
- "Tiny seashells."
- Literally "butterfly." Also known as bowtie
- "Spirals" or corkscrew-shaped twists.
Bucati - Thick corkscrew-like twists with a hole
in the middle.
Romani - Small, ridged seashells.
di Pasero - Lingue means "tongue." This
flat, wide pasta is similar to fettucine.
- Ridged, slightly rounded tubes.
- Similar to maccheroni, but narrower and cut into
- Literally "little ears."
- A wide egg noodle. One of the few traditional pasta
shapes from Tuscany.
- Tubular pasta cut at an angle to look like quill
Rigate - Penne with rigate, "ridges."
- A smaller version of penne.
- Small U-shaped pipes.
- Large, ridged tubes with square-cut ends.
- Ridged, slightly bent tubes.
- Literally "a length of cord."
- Small squares of pasta folded like an S, literally
meaning "priest stranglers".
- A flat, wide pasta similar to fettucine.
- Classic thin egg noodle from Emilia-Romagna.
- Medium sized seashells.
- Long, flat pasta sometimes called linguine.
Rigati - Tiny, ridged tubes.
- Like spaghetti, but slightly thicker.
pasta cuts go best with which sauces?
are no hard and fast rules about which cuts match which
sauces. If you're partial to a particular cut, you should
toss it with whatever sauce you like. There are, however,
some cuts that show off a sauce better than others.
If you have a chunky vegetable sauce, look for pasta
cuts with lots of nooks and crannies or deep crevices
to catch and hold the vegetables.
fusilli, orecchiette, conchiglie.
Cheese sauces adhere best to small pastas cuts with
lots of surface area.
fusilli, farfalle, maccheroni, penne, shells.
Noodles just beg for butter. A little bit of sauce
goes a long way to coat them evenly.
Pesto, and other oil-based sauces, are just right
for keeping long, thin cuts from clumping together.
They also coat noodles more evenly than they would
smaller pasta with lots of crevices.
bucatini, spaghetti, trenette.
Two completely different pasta cuts are commonly used
with meat ragu. In Northern Italy, wide, fresh egg
noodles are traditionally paired with meat sauce,
while in Southern Italy small cuts of dried pasta
are used. Neither will steer you wrong.
maccheroni, fusilli, pappardelle, tagliatelle.
Nearly any small cut will pair deliciously with soup.
The size you choose all depends on how many pieces
of pasta you prefer in each spoonful.
the difference between fresh pasta and dried pasta?
people assume dried pasta is just fresh pasta thats
been set out to dry. Although it certainly seems reasonable
to think so, its not the case. Fresh pasta, which
is traditionally made in Northern and Central Italy,
is almost always made with eggs. Eggs are highly perishable,
so fresh pasta must be eaten within a few days of its
pasta, a Southern Italian trademark, almost never contains
eggs. Because its usually just semolina flour,
water and salt, dried pasta can last almost indefinitely
pasta can be made with a wide variety of flours, including
semolina flour (a derivative of durum wheat), chestnut
flour and wheat flour. But its most often made
with the more delicate bread flour, which is easier
to roll and shape by hand. Dried pasta, on the other
hand, depends on semolina flour almost exclusively.
When mixed with water, coarse semolina flour forms a
tough dough thats more often forced through perforated
dies than shaped by hand.
item was contributed by Shirley Cline from San Fransisco.
was a great inspiration when I first started working
on the idea of creating a recipe and cooking web site.
Not only did she encourage me but she also supplied
a great many recipes and other pieces which are featured
throughout the site. Her great achievement was to teach
me to cook risotto over the internet!
I never had the chance to meet Shirley, or even talk
to her, I regarded her as a good friend. It was with
great sadness that I learnt that she passed away in
Autumn 2004 and that there would be no more emails.
I think she will be sadly missed by a lot of people
like me to whom she gave such pleasure with the sharing
or her recipes. The pleasure my children have had from
her recipe for Strawberries
with Balsamic Vinegar and Mint - not to mention
the fights for seconds - has been a joy to behold.