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Only cook pasta just before it is served.
Before you choose to buy dried pasta, you should make sure to read the labels. If you're looking for top quality pasta, you should choose a kind that is made of 100% semolina. You might see durum, which is wheat semolina. Pasta that is made out of durum wheat keeps its shape and stays firm when it's cooked. If you cook it according to the directions, it won't get sticky or mushy, but stays firm. Pasta which hasn't been made out of semolina will likely become soft and doesn't toss well. Instead, consider a pasta that is softer if you're making a casserole.
The only pasta that is made with any kind of eggs are noodles. This makes them more colorful than other kinds of pasta.
If you're choosing to substitute another kind of pasta in a recipe, you should ensure that you choose pastas that are similar to go well with the sauce. Thinner sauces pair well with flat pasta and chunkier sauces do well with shaped pasta that has places that will catch and hold a heavier sauce.
If you consider the brand of pasta, keep in mind that an Italian brand will likely be thicker than an American brand.
The Best Way to Measure Pasta:
If you're planning a dinner for eight, you need to have to decide how much pasta you will need. Do you know how much a pound of pasta serves? Follow these general guidelines to always ensure that you have the right amount of pasta when measuring dry and serving cooked pasta. Keep in mind that some shapes differ in size depending on who makes it, so these measurements should just give you a general idea.
Small to medium: 8 oz. uncooked = 4 cups of cooked.
Examples of this pasta might include rotini, twists, wagon wheels, spirals, bow ties, penne, elbow macaroni, medium shells, rigatoni and penne.
Long: 8 oz. uncooked = 4 cups of cooked.
Examples of this kind of pasta might include fettuccine, vermicelli, angel hair, spaghetti, and linguine.
How to Cook Pasta Perfectly:
Step 1: If you're cooking a pound of dry pasta, you should boil four to six quarts of water. Use less according to how much you're making.
Step 2: Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add pasta and stir while you wait for the water to begin boiling again.
Step 3: Be sure to occasionally stir pasta while it's cooking.
Step 4: Read packaging instructions when it comes to cook times. Keep in mind that if you're using the pasta in a dish that will need to be cooked more, such as in lasagna, only cook the pasta for 2/3 of the recommended cooking time for best results.
Step 5: You should taste your pasta to decide if it's done. Pasta that is done perfectly will be firm to bite into, but will be cooked all the way through. This is called "al dente".
Step 6: Drain pasta right away. Don't leave it sitting in the hot water, as this causes stickiness and complete your dish.
Add the Right Pasta Sauce:
When you're choosing a sauce for your pasta, keep these points in mind:
Angel hair or thin spaghetti work well with thin and light sauces.
Pasta shapes that are thick, such as fettuccine will do well with sauces that are a bit heavier.
Shapes of pasta that have ridges or holes such as radiatore or mostaccoli work best with chunky sauces.
It's important not to put too much sauce in pasta. Many Italians will tell you that Americans are drowning their pasta in loads of sauce.
Italians prefer to toss their pasta with just the right amount of sauce to coat it and not leave a large puddle on the plate.
How to reheat pasta:
When reheating pasta that's already been cooked, you should dish out only the amount you need. Place it in boiling water. You can make it easier to drain by putting the pasta in a colander that won't melt and putting it in the boiling water. Stainless steel works well for this. Once you've got your pasta in the water, you only have to keep it in for about forty to sixty seconds per serving of four ounces. Once it's hot, take the pasta out, drain it well and add your sauce, then serve right away.
You can also reheat your pasta in the microwave by heating a single serving for about 45 seconds and checking it before heating it again.
How to Warm a Serving Bowl:
When you're warming the bowl that you'll be serving your pasta in, you simply need to pour hot water into it and leave it in there until you're ready to use it. When you're ready to add your pasta, pour the water out and dry the bowl. Or, you can warm bowls and plates by putting them in an oven that's been heated to 250 degrees for about ten to 15 minutes before you serve the pasta.
Preparing Pasta Ahead of Time:
When making pasta ahead of time, you simply cook the pasta as you usually would, but only cook it until it's just done, or al dente. Then you should drain it very well and run cold water on it. This will stop the cooking of the pasta. Drain it well again and toss about two teaspoons of oil with it to prevent it from sticking.
Properly Storing Pasta:
Uncooked Dry Pasta:
Uncooked dry pasta can be stored in the cabinet for as long as a year. Keep it cool and dry. You should apply the rule of "first-in, first-out". In other words, use the pasta that you've had the longest first so you'll always have fresh pasta.
Pasta that's Already Cooked:
Cooked pasta should be stored in the refrigerator in a container that's airtight. You can keep it for about three to five days. Add a little bit of oil or one to two teaspoons per pound so that the pasta doesn't stick. Since cooked pasta absorbs flavors and any oils that sauces might have in them, you should keep them separate.
How to Freeze Pasta:
Different shapes of pasta are better for freezing than others. The best pastas to freeze are those that you use when baking, such as jumbo shells, ziti, lasagna and manicotti. You'll find that you get the best results by making the whole recipe and putting it in the freezer before you bake it. Then, when you're ready to eat it, you just thaw it out and bake it according to the recipe.