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Everyone loves Pasta! Whether your Pasta Dishes are made with egg noodles, macaroni and cheese to stuffed manicotti and lasagna. Pasta is a meal that just about pleases everyone--from sophisticated diners who may toss their noodles with truffles to 5 year olds who want theirs with meatballs. And did you know that January 4th is National Pasta Day?!
Pasta is a term for food made from an unleavened dough of wheat and water. Sometimes eggs and vegetable extracts are added for a richer flavor and color.
You will find hundreds of different shapes of pasta to use with your pasta recipes. You may want spaghetti (long strings) for your bolengese, maccheroni (tubes) for your macaroni and cheese or fusilli (swirls) for your pasta salad recipes. And these are just a few!
You also have a choice of fresh pasta or dried. You can store dried pasta (without eggs) for up to 2 years (under ideal conditions) but fresh pasta will keep in your fridge only a few days.
As mentioned before, pasta should be cooked just al dente and never overcooked. If you plan to use your pasta in a casserole, cook it even less on top of the stove, as it will cook more in the oven.
Cook pasta in a tall pot with plenty of water, at least 4 quarts of water to a pound of pasta. Bring to a rolling boil, add salt (at least 2 tsp. per pound) and pasta. Do not add oil to your water when cooking pasta as it will keep the sauce from sticking to the pasta. Cook according to type of pasta (times vary). Drain in a colander, but do not rinse. You will be rinsing away the nutrients. Serve immediately with your favorite sauce.
Average Cooking Times (for dry pasta)
Capellini (Angel Hair) 3-4 min.
Spaghetti, Linguine 7 min.
Bucatini, Ziti 10 min.
Farfalle, Conchiglie 10 min.
Penne, Rigatoni 15 min.
Ravioli, Tortellini 20 min.
These cooking times are a guideline. ALWAYS test your pasta a minute before you think it's done to make sure you don't overcook.
The ideal pasta is cooked "al dente", that is "firm to the bite" - not too soft. You don't want to overcook it as pasta is not good when limp and mushy. Check out this video for the perfect pasta.
Traditionally, pasta is served with a sauce or in a casserole or salad. Some of the basic sauces are for pasta are pesto, bolognese, tomato and carbonara. Fettucini Alfredo is also a very popular pasta dish.
Choosing the best pasta shape for your sauce is not brain surgery. You can combine any shape pasta with any sauce and get a delicious meal every time. However, if you are going with a heavy sauce, perhaps one with meat, you may find that a pasta with twists and curls, such as rigatoni or small shells, will catch the sauce. Also fusilli and penne are good choices for heavy sauces.
Oil-based sauces work well with long, thin pasta, such as vermicelli or angel hair. The oil keeps each strand separated.
It is certainly easier to buy pasta, but there's nothing like making homemade pasta from scratch. Watch this video for an easy way to make your own fresh noodles for your pasta dishes.
Here's simple recipe for
to get you started:
You will need:
2 c. semlina flour (or all purpose)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 beaten eggs
1/3 c. water
1 tsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
1/3 c. all purpose flour
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center.
In a smaller mixing bowl, stir the eggs, water and oil together. Pour into the well you made in the flour and mix well.
Sprinkle 1/3 c. all purpose flour onto your kneading surface. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic (about 8 - 10 minutes). Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide dough into fourths. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a 12" square. Let stand about 20 minutes or until the dough is slightly dry. Pass through pasta machine as directed by manufacturer until the pasta sheets are 1/16" thick. Shape as desired.