Dried Pasta…What Exactly is it?

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Pasta Mixture with TomatoesMost people have eaten pasta, cooked pasta, seen pasta, or at least know what pasta is. To many, pasta is just noodles that you boil in water for about 12-15 minutes and throw some red or white sauce on top of. Sometimes you might add your favorite veggies or meats to the dish. Well, pasta is actually quite a versatile food that has a long history and many possibilities for cooking and serving it.

Plain and simple, pasta is food. It is made from kneading together flour from specific grains with water or eggs, or both. Then the dough-like substance is pressed, formed, or cut into various shapes. Pasta can come fresh or dried. You can even make your own fresh pasta to cook! Whether it is fresh or dried, pasta is then boiled until it is tender, but be careful not to boil it too long or it will get mushy. If you have ever had pasta before you can simply taste it to see if the texture is right or if it needs to cook a little longer. Another old method of checking the progress of your cooking pasta is to throw a piece against the wall and if it sticks, it’s ready. Read the rest…

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Dried Pasta Cooking Tips

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Whether you purchase dried pasta at a grocery store or buy gourmet pasta products online from CyberCucina, its packaging usually has a recommended cooking time. You should follow the cooking time because it is usually right, but be sure to taste a piece often to test for the right texture.
Whatever you do, don’t overcook the pasta!

To get the best texture of pasta you have to cook it to the point that it is “al dente,” which literally means “to the tooth” in Italian. Pasta needs to be tender but it should still be a bit firm when you bite it.

If you cook it past the point of having a bite it will get mushy.

Some people say that one good way to test stringy pasta, other than tasting it, is to toss it lightly against the wall. If it sticks, it’s done!

Some pasta dishes can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated, or even frozen, until you are ready to cook them. Lasagna is the best dish to prepare ahead of time, but just about any casserole dish where the pasta is precooked and covered in sauce can be prepared ahead of time and kept in an air tight container. These dishes make for great party meals.

Pasta can even be cooked ahead of time and kept around for a little while to heat and use later. To do this, cook the pasta until it is just done then drain it immediately. Then, toss the pasta with a little oil and store it in an air-tight container. When you are ready to use it, simply drop it in boiling water for about two minutes just to heat it thoroughly.

When making homemade sauce that uses cheese as an ingredient, be sure that the sauce is not boiling. Grate your cheese finely and add it to the sauce a little at a time while the sauce is hot, but not boiling or it will curdle.

Pasta Trivia

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Take a pasta quiz at http://quiz.ivillage.com/food/tests/pasta.htm

There are over 600 different shapes of pasta in the world.

Mark your calendar - October 25th is World Pasta Day!

The Pope laid out standards for the quality of pasta in the 13th century.

It has been said that pasta was brought to the United States by Thomas Jefferson after he tasted a pasta dish while in France and loved it. When he returned to the United States he apparently ordered macaroni by the crate and bought himself a pasta making machine.

Spaghetto is the singular form of spaghetti. Pasta literally means paste in the Italian language. So if you are eating just one piece you can say, “I am eating a spaghetto.”

Gravy is not just a brown, meat based sauce to throw on beef, pork, or poultry. It is also a term sometimes used by Italians for a tomato sauce that is prepared by simmering it for a long time.

For the most part, Americans are the only people who use a fork with a spoon to twirl and eat their spaghetti. Most other cultures simply use a fork and twirl it against the dish. Read the rest…

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