Due to my love for pasta, I have collected the following information from the internet to share with all of you. I am sure this information will be quite useful to all of you.
It’s our commonest notion of Italian food. And justifiably so, for pasta is at the heart of Italian cooking and eating. And they’ve been eating the stuff for centuries. One story goes that Marco Polo brought noodles to Italy after his travels to China. But there’s also evidence that Italians were familiar with pasta eons before that.
Whatever the historical origin, there’s little doubt that Italians are crazy about their pasta and have, over the years, developed an array of sizes and shapes and sauces to go with pasta. While dried pasta, which is easy to store, is now popular, freshly made and artisanal pastas are held in high regard by gourmets. Pasta shapes have interesting names and many sauces have a history to them — all of which makes them much more interesting. Here’s a quick guide to knowing your pasta shapes and sizes:
Long pasta : These include cappelli d’angelo (angel’s hair), spaghetti, spaghettini, linguine, bucatini, fusilli lungi. All suitable for tomato sauces, herb based sauces, carbonara and Bologna sauce. Angel’s hair pasta, for instance, combines beautifully with crabmeat and other seafood.
Ribbons (fettuce): In this category, you’ll find tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, tonarelli. These flat ribbons go well with alfredo.
Tubes: Penne, garganelli, elicoidali, cavatappi are all tubular pasta. Serve these in all’arrabbiata, prosciutti and asparagus based sauces. Maccheroni rigati, maccheroni, rigatoni, gigantoni are suitable for sauces with sausages and ricotta, ragu, vegetables and pepperoni.
Special shapes: Conchiglie, farfalle, gnocchi, strozzaproti, gemelli, casareccia, lumache, orechiete, radiatori are suitable for cream sauces enriched with salmon, or chicken.
Pasta for soups: Quadrucci, orzi, risoni, alfabetini, farfarelline, maltagliatti, conchigliette, lumachine, anelli rigati, tubetti. These are just right for adding starch and substance to souple like the minestrone.
Stuffed pasta: Tortelloni, pansoti, tortellini, cannelloni, ravioli, raviolini, all come under the category of pasta which are stuffed and then tossed in sauce. Classics include ravioli stuffed with ricotta and served tossed in sage butter and cream. There’s also the lasagna, sheets of which are layered with meat and vegetable or sauce and then baked.
How to cook pasta
You should always cook pasta in a large volume of water. Make sure the water is boiling rapidly and is salted before you introduce the pasta. Most pasta will take between 10-13 minutes to cook to an al dente (or to the bite) doneness.
Keep testing if you aren’t sure of how long it’s going to take. Never overcook pasta. Do not rinse either. And save some of the cooking water for thinning the sauce, if necessary.
Easy pasta sauces
Chunky Tomato Sauce: Peel, deseed and roughly dice really ripe tomatoes. Heat some olive oil and sizzle some garlic in it. Put the tomato in, add salt to taste stir a minute, toss in torn basil leaves and serve over pasta with some goat’s cheese or feta crumbled on top.
Herbed Cream Sauce : Heat a cup of thin cream gently. Add salt and a handful of fresh, chopped herbs like dill. Toss hot, freshly cooked pasta in the sauce.
Carbonara: Fry some diced bacon over a low heat, add some chopped onion and fry till translucent. Beat one egg yolk into a cup of thin cream. Add cooked pasta to the bacon and onion, pour in cream and yolk mixture, stir and serve immediately, with freshly milled pepper.
Do not reheat, after adding the egg and cream. The egg will cook in the heat of the pasta and form a creamy sauce that clings to it.