Author Notes: Let’s talk, seriously, about pasta!
Here in Italy pasta is considered a main course (“piatto unico”), not a side dish. Sometimes it is also the only course of a meal: If you put together grains, veggies and proteins, your dinner is balanced and your tummy is more than satisfied!
Think of the simple tomato-basil spaghetti: you have grains from the pasta, veggies from the tomato sauce and proteins when you season the whole thing with delicious parmesan cheese! —Claudia | Gourmet Project
Serves: you decide
White pasta is delicious. But whole grain pasta is also so good!
Spelt pasta is a good healthy option; I don’t like kamut pasta, but I love rice and buckwheat noodles, but… only for Asian style dishes (yummy wok!).
There are an infinite number of pasta sizes and formats: each region has one or more typical formats, result of years of culinary traditions and foodies looking for the perfect shape for their local ingredients and seasonings.
I can tell you this: rough and striped pasta hold back the seasoning much better. But they also kind of absorb it, so if you have a dense condiment and you match it with rough pasta you might get a dry, heavy result.
Regarding long or short pasta…. mmmhhh… this is difficult…
We usually refer to traditions: what our ancestors decided was the best for each of their wonderful local recipes we take for granted.
Although, there is a great margin for personal taste: truth is, at the end, Italians choose the pasta according to tradition, to personal tastes and… to whatever they have in the pantry!
However, I found a basic rule for you:
buttery and/or meat condiments give their best with short pasta
oily and/or fish or veggie condiments are great with long pasta.
How to prep
You need a lot of water: 1 liter for each 100 gr of pasta.
And salt: please salt the water! There is no way you can eat unsalted pasta: 10 gr of coarse salt for every liter of water. But remember: if you are going to season your pasta with a very salty condiment, reduce salt to 5-7 grams!
Remember: 1 10 100.
Usually Italians put salt in the water only when it is boiling, to avoid it from delaying boil. As I found out there is no scientific evidence of this, I put salt immediately to not forget it!
“Al dente” pasta is the best:
good to taste
better to digest
To get “al dente” pasta, I usually cook it 1 minute less than the time indicated on the packaging.
Always take a bite and look at the center: too white? Still needs cooking.
In the pan:
I love this easy, one pot, fast way of cooking pasta.
The only difficult part is the quantity of water: I usually start with two times the weight in water and then progressively add more; to be sure I don’t overcook it.
The good thing is the creamy result: starches released stay there, they don’t flow away with drained water, so even a simple tomato pasta tastes like butter or cream was added to it.
About serving sizes:
On a diet you should eat 60-70 grams of pasta.
On a normal balance diet 80-100 grams… but ask any Italian and he/she will probably answer you that 120 grams is what they usually end up eating. It obviously depend on condiments: the heavier the seasoning the less pasta you’ll be willing/able to eat!
Ok, now you are ready to face a serious pasta cooking session.