FOLLOW THESE STEPS
- Boil water in a large potTo make sure pasta doesn’t stick together, use at least 4 quarts of water for every pound of noodles.
- Salt the water with at least a tablespoon—more is fineThe salty water adds flavor to the pasta.
- Add pastaPour pasta into boiling water. Don’t break the pasta; it will soften up within 30 seconds and fit into the pot.
- Stir the pastaAs the pasta starts to cook, stir it well with the tongs so the noodles don’t stick to each other (or the pot).
- Test the pasta by tasting itFollow the cooking time on the package, but always taste pasta before draining to make sure the texture is right. Pasta cooked properly should be al dente—a little chewy.
- Drain the pastaDrain cooked pasta well in a colander. If serving hot, add sauce right away; if you’re making a pasta salad, run noodles under cold water to stop the cooking.
Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, with the first reference dating to 1154 in Sicily. It is also commonly used to refer to the variety of pasta dishes. Typically, pasta is a noodle made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water or eggs and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked by boiling or baking. It can also be made with flour from other cereals or grains.Pastas may be divided into two broad categories, dried (pasta mecca) and fresh (pasta fresco).
Most dried pasta is commercially produced via an extrusion process although it can be produced in most homes. Fresh pasta was traditionally produced by hand, sometimes with the aid of simple machines, but today many varieties of fresh pasta are also commercially produced by large-scale machines, and the products are widely available in supermarkets.
Both dried and fresh pasta come in a number of shapes and varieties, with 310 specific forms known variably by over 1300 names having been documented. In Italy, the names of specific pasta shapes or types often vary with locale. For example, the form cavatelli is known by 28 different names depending on region and town. Common forms of pasta include long shapes, short shapes, tubes, flat shapes and sheets, miniature soup shapes, filled or stuffed, and specialty or decorative shapes.
As a category in Italian cuisine, both fresh and dried pasta are classically used in one of three kinds of prepared dishes. As pasta as Ciutat (or pastasciutta) cooked pasta is plated and served with a complementary sauce or condiment. The second classification of pasta dishes is pasta in brood in which the pasta is part of a soup-type dish. A third category is pasta al forum in which the pasta incorporated into a dish that is subsequently baked.
Pasta is generally a simple dish but comes in many varieties due to its versatility. Some pasta dishes are served as the first course in Italy because the portion sizes are small and simple. Pasta is also prepared in light lunches, such as salads or large portion sizes for dinner. It can be prepared by hand or food processor and served hot or cold. Pasta sauces vary in taste, color and texture. When choosing which type of pasta and sauce to serve together, there is a general rule regarding compatibility. Simple sauces like pesto are ideal for long and thin strands of pasta while tomato sauce combines well with thicker pasta. Thicker and chunkier sauces have the better ability to cling onto the holes and cuts of short, tubular, twisted pasta. The extra sauce left on the plate after all of the pasta is eaten is often mopped up with a piece of bread.