Pasta has reached a level of popularity where manufacturers now produce gluten-free pasta to satisfy the cravings of gluten-intolerant pasta lovers. Its fame has transcended into becoming a staple dish not only in Italy, but in many other countries as well. A pasta dish is after all, already a complete meal that can be whipped up in a matter of few minutes. Not unless, you are planning to make homemade fresh pasta.
Whereas before non-Italians are familiar only of with the dry pasta type, and the only discrimination they know of when choosing a type of pasta is between locally produced or authentic Italian-made pasta.
Nowadays, there is a question of which type of pasta is better, dry or fresh, since there are plenty of tutorial videos available online on how to make homemade fresh pasta the way Italians do. .
Actually, choosing between fresh or dry, depends on the type of pasta dish that is on your menu for the day.
Cooking with Fresh Pasta or Pasta Fresca
Fresh pasta, or pasta fresca as Italians call it, is made from a simple mixture of egg and flour to make a dough. Flour can be the all-purpose or the low-gluten flour type.. You can use the entire egg, or just the yolk or even just the whites, Although an all-yolk fresh pasta is richer-tasting, the dough will come out much softer. Now the exact opposite happens when using only egg whites as the dough will come out as much stiffer. If you are going to use both yolk and white, the ideal ratio is one (1) egg for every 100 gram of flour.
Since we are on the topic of cooking with pasta fresca rather than how to cook it, a fresh pasta dish usually calls for light sauces, usually made from a mixture of cream, oil, tomatoes; or simply served with butter sauce. The most popular fresh pasta dishes are carbonara, fettuccine Alfredo, tortellini, ravioli and cannelloni.
Cooking with Dry Pasta or Pasta Secca
Dry pasta, known as pasta secca in Italy is made from semolina flour and water. You can simply buy a pack from your favorite grocer. Egg here is in use only as flavoring, while some other factory-made dry pasta types, made use of extracts of vegetables like spinach, carrot, beet or tomato, for color and flavor.
Your dry pasta dish and its sauce depends on the size, shape and width of the pasta you will be using. Spaghetti is still the most popular, followed by the all-time American macaroni and cheese. There there are the lasagna, the bolognese or ragu, as well as the soup dishes.
The best way to have your dry pasta is to cook it al dente, which is not too mushy or to crunchy but soft with a slight chewiness to it. Cooking dry pasta al dente requires checking out the pasta’s texture after six to seven minutes of boiling, Once the soft-but-chewy texture is achieved, immediately removing the pasta from the boiling water by draining and rinsing it, will keep the pasta from expanding any further.
Unlike pasta fresca, pasta secca with a rough surface is best if to combine with heavy, chunky and meaty sauces. The rough texture allows much of the heavy sauce to cling to, rather than slip from, the pasta.