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Friday, 15 July 2011

Thoughts On Pasta

A quick word about pasta.

When you go to the supermarket there are now many choices when it comes to pasta. All the different shapes and sizes, dried pasta, fresh pasta, filled pasta... the list is endless! You can now buy pasta machines for making your own quite cheaply so it gets a little confusing as to which is the best way to go when preparing pasta dishes.

Here's my advice on which pastas to use for your dishes.

For anything long or stringy (tagliatelle, spaghetti, linguine etc), or interestingly shaped (penne, fusilli, rigatoni, macaroni), buy dried pasta. The reason for this is because the fresh stuff is hard to get al dente and making your own is a bit of a chore unless you want something special like squid ink taglliarini. Don't buy quick cook dried pasta as it gets mushy very quickly, go for the stuff that takes about 12 minutes and cook it for a minute less than the instructions say (or dig in and try a bit).

For al forno (in the oven) dishes like lasagne, cannelloni etc. Buy "fresh" pasta or make your own if you can be bothered. I only buy the "fresh" pasta from the super market for the above dishes, simply because things like lasagne take a bit of time to prepare and I've found that it still provides great results!

Anything that is stuffed and sealed like ravioli or tortellini... make the pasta yourself! You have the control over the filling and they won't look "shop bought". I always think that with something like Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese (NOT SPAGHETTI!!! Most Italians are pretty disgusted by our english bastardisation of a beloved family dish) the sauce is the main event, a bit like with steak and chips... the steak is the main event. But with ravioli and tortellini, the pasta is the star of the show. Buying fresh lasagne sheets from the supermarket won't cut it I'm afraid as the sheets are too thick so if you want to start experimenting with stuffed pasta, buy a pasta machine and be prepared for a bit of trial and error. Once you get the hang of it, it's not that hard!

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