Pasta is a staple in many households. And, there is a wide variety to choose from. It is estimated that there are over 600 varieties of pasta in the world and the choices can be baffling. Here is a simplified way to identify pasta types:
Long form pasta – these are spaghetti-like pasta types that you can twist around a fork. The pasta can be round or flat, solid or hollow. This group includes:
- Long, round types like spaghetti or angel hair
- Ribbon cuts like fettuccine, linguine and tagliatelle
Short form pasta – these are short pasta shapes and include:
- Tubular shapes – elbow macaroni, penne, rigatoni and manicotti
- Shaped pasta – farfalle (bow tie), fusilli (corkscrew) and wagon wheels
- Stuffed pasta – ravioli, tortellini and gnocchi
Cooking pasta is easy.
- Put water in a large saucepan; use 1 quart water for every 4 ounces of dry pasta to keep it from sticking together.
- Bring water to a boil. Add salt to the water after it boils so the salt dissolves more easily.
- Add the dry pasta all at once. Keep the heat high to get water boiling again. Stir occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking.
- Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook for 8 to 12 minutes. Exact cooking times vary based on shape and thickness of pasta.
- Pasta is done when “al dente”— tender but firm to eat. You will have to taste a piece to check that it’s cooked enough.
- Remove the pot from the heat. Add ½ to 1 cup cold water to the hot water with the pasta to immediately stop the cooking process.
- Drain. Do not rinse pasta unless the directions indicate you should. The starch from the pasta helps the sauce stick.
Pour your favorite sauce over the pasta and sit down to a wonderful hot meal the whole family can enjoy!