Most people have eaten pasta…
Most have also cooked pasta, seen pasta, or at least know what pasta is. To many, pasta is just noodles that you boil in water for about 12-15 minutes and throw some red or white sauce on top of. Sometimes you might add your favorite veggies or meats to the dish. Well, pasta is actually quite a versatile food that has a long history and many possibilities for cooking and serving it.
Plain and simple, pasta is food. It is made from kneading together flour from specific grains with water or eggs, or both. Then the dough-like substance is pressed, formed, or cut into various shapes. Pasta can come fresh or dried. You can even make your own fresh pasta to cook!
Whether it is fresh or dried, pasta is then boiled until it is tender, but be careful not to boil it too long or it will get mushy. If you have ever had pasta before you can simply taste it to see if the texture is right or if it needs to cook a little longer. Another old-fashioned method of checking the progress of your cooking pasta is to throw a piece against the wall and if it sticks, it’s ready.
The most well known forms of pasta are likely spaghetti and macaroni. Macaroni is actually a word that refers to various shapes of pasta but the most well known macaroni is the small think tubes of pasta that are curved in a half moon shape. Pasta is usually seen as an ingredient, but “pasta” can also refer to any dish or recipe which contains pasta as the main ingredient. The word “pasta” comes from the Italian word pasta that means “dough.” The Italian word pasta can also mean “paste.”
Common Italian Pasta that has been dried is made from durum wheat semolina. This wheat gives the pasta a faint yellowish color and when it is cooked correctly it is chewy with a slight bite, also known as “al dente.” Al dente literally means “with bite” in Italian. Some pasta that is American made is produced by mixing farina and semolina. These pastas usually feel a little different than Italian pasta and they are best when used in pasta dishes and casseroles. You may often see gnocchi when looking over a list of pasta or a pasta menu, however it’s not actually pasta. Gnocchi is made from milled potatoes, but it is generally prepared similar to pasta.
Pasta can be made using a die, which is a plate with little holes in it that the ingredients are pushed through. Another way is by lamination which is when you knead the dough of ingredients and fold it and roll it until it is the right thickness. Then it is cut, by hand or by slitters. Pasta that is fresh cooks more quickly than dried pasta but it doesn’t keep very long because of all the moisture in it. Dried pasta, on the other hand can be kept for about three years but takes a little longer to cook. Pasta can also come packaged to be refrigerated or frozen and this way it can be kept for about seven weeks.