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A guide to Italian pasta: choosing the right pasta

August 12, 2011

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Professional chefs say that you should never blame yourselves for pasta not cooking properly. Simply because, all pastas are not the same! There are loads of tips to help you make the best pasta choice for you and your family. I’ve selected a couple of them for amateur chefs (like me). Here they are:

What should it look like? They say that, when shopping for pasta, you should always look for a golden, amber color, which is a sign of good-quality wheat, versus whitish, reddish, or grayish tones. High-quality pasta should also have fewer specs or impurities.

What should it feel like? Good pasta should be cooked al dente every time for the best meal you can possibly make. “Al dente,” which means “to the tooth” in Italian, simply means that the finished pasta should be firm when it is ready to be eaten. If you overcook your pasta, your meal could end up being all gooey and mushy. You certainly don’t want that. I’ve heard of a neat way to check your spaghetti if it’s al dente-you take one out of the pot, and take a bite of it. It should be firm to the taste, and at it’s center, you should be able to see one whitish dot, surrounded by a darker, yellowish circle. The whitish dot should be the al dente part of the spaghetti.

What should the cooking water look like? Pasta that is made with the highest-quality durum wheat should not release a lot of starch in the cooking water. That means that your cooking water should always remain clear versus cloudy, which is an indicator that excess starch is being released, which usually results in sticky pasta. We’ve all been there, I know.

Also keep in mind that pasta made with the highest-quality wheat should not break, clump, or stick when cooking. And that you should always serve it immediately to make for the best meal possible. The best pasta I could recommend, is Barilla. It is a bit on the pricey side, but your meal deserves it! You won’t regret it.

That’s it for now, hope this advice help you become a better Italian chef! Buon appetito!

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