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All About Pasta

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201 replies to this topic

#31 Craig Camp

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 03:13 PM

And as Craig says, it makes a big difference if you sauté the pasta in the sauce for a moment rather than just pouring the sauce over the pasta and combining the two.

In most instances I do both: I saute the two together so that the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, and then once the pasta is in the serving bowl I top it with additional sauce.

That's the ticket. Otherwise you can end up over-saucing the pasta.
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#32 Varmint

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 03:21 PM

I also don't think it necessary to use sea salt in the water, as the flavors are not discernable (to me, at least) in the final product regardless of the type of salt I use.
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#33 Craig Camp

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 03:23 PM

I also don't think it necessary to use sea salt in the water, as the flavors are not discernable (to me, at least) in the final product regardless of the type of salt I use.

Again I think it depends on the pasta. With a very hard smooth pasta it probably does not matter. With rough artisan pasta I think it makes a difference.
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#34 awbrig

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 03:27 PM

In most instances I do both: I saute the two together so that the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, and then once the pasta is in the serving bowl I top it with additional sauce.


Thats what Frank Pellegrino recommends in the Rao's Cookbook, also.

Did anyone else read in the Washington Post last week that the 2 richest men in the world dined with their wives @ Rao's last week - Bill Gates & Warren Buffet...I thought that was pretty interesting! :smile:

#35 Jim Dixon

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 06:01 PM

I also like to save a cup or so of the pasta cooking water. You can use it to thin the sauce if it's too thick or to make it more "saucy."

We eat a lot pasta tossed with onions or garlic (or shallots or leeks or all four..quatro gigli) and maybe some other vegetables, and it's good add a little of the water.

Jim

Edited by Jim Dixon, 24 March 2003 - 06:02 PM.

olive oil + salt
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#36 Stone

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 06:16 PM

Many people will say I am crazy, but I actually think Ronzoni is pretty decent. We keep Barilla and a few others in house -- mainly for shape variety. De Cecco is also pretty good.

Didn't it win the Cook's Illustrated prize?

#37 Fat Guy

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 09:32 PM

Hershey's/Nestle and other generic brands often score well in Cook's Illustrated tests. I have to assume the testers have dumbed-down/white-breaded palates that are trained to like middle-of-the-road supermarket products. However, I do think Ronzoni is a pretty decent pasta. The thicker, flatter noodles cook up nicely al dente, as does the ziti. It lacks the surface texture of the premium Italian brands and therefore doesn't take sauce as well, but taste- and texture-wise I find it to be quite good. (As I recall the Cook's tests tend to be simple tastings and don't take sauce absorption into account.) I think it's better than Barilla, though I haven't done serious controlled blind comparisons.

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#38 Fat Guy

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 09:33 PM

You can use it to thin the sauce if it's too thick or to make it more "saucy."

I wish I had this problem. In almost all instances, I'm wishing the sauce would be thicker.

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#39 Ron Johnson

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 06:32 AM

Armoniche which is imported by Isola is very good pasta.

#40 Jinmyo

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 08:28 AM

De Cecco and Rustichella D'Abruzzo are what I tend to use here in Canada.
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#41 Charles Smith

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 08:56 AM

I like Setaro, from Abruzzo, available in the Italian market in Chelsea market.

Edited by Charles Smith, 25 March 2003 - 08:56 AM.


#42 trillium

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 12:20 PM

For more expensive pasta my favorite is Latini. I love how their textures just grabs at the sauce. For every day pasta... de Cecco...my grandfather would probably disown me if he found I used anything else. I really tried hard to like Trader Joe's pasta (both the "expensive" one and the cheapie one) but I just don't. Part of it has to do with the fact that we always pack a lunch from the preceding night's dinner and neither pastas reheat well at all.

regards,
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#43 Craig Camp

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 12:29 PM

If I try to reheat pasta my wife and her whole family will shoot me. However, it does work well in a frittata. Put the pasta in pan with a little EVOO, saute to warm it up, then add the wisked eggs. When the bottom is done finish the top under the broiler. Serve with a salad.

This assumes an Italian level of sauce that just coats the pasta.

Edited by Craig Camp, 25 March 2003 - 12:30 PM.

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#44 Craig Camp

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 08:43 PM

The comment about salt by FG has been rolling around in my mind enough to make me go back and re-read this thread. Brain freeze! I wrote the wrong thing about the salt. I use about a tablespoon PER QUART of water. I don't actually measure, but it is one small pile of course sea salt in my hand (I have big hands) per quart.

Sorry for the mistake. Thanks for spotting it FG.

I do adjust slightly for the size of the pot and the pasta. The bigger the pot the more salt I use. If the pasta is very hard and smooth I use even more - again referring to the piles of salt in my hand.
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#45 Fat Guy

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 09:15 PM

I bought some of the Wegmans "Italian Classics" pasta tonight, and will report on it tomorrow when I cook it. Upon visual inspection, it looks excellent, with a very rough surface. It is made in Italy. A Web search revealed this interesting article:

http://www.privatela.../food_pasta.cfm

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#46 Fat Guy

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 05:53 PM

I finally had a chance to cook up the Wegmans pasta, in the "Gobetti" shape (kind of like elbows). It is an excellent product. It cooked up nicely al dente, and the surface ridges are highly sauce-retentive. My only complaint is that it comes in 12-ounce bags, and that the labeling makes it difficult to identify that fact -- I didn't actually realize it until I opened the bag and noticed that it seemed a bit short on contents.

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#47 sammy

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Posted 27 March 2003 - 06:03 PM

Been very satisfied with Voiello pasta from Italy. It was supposedly Barilla's (Italy) second label and is very inexpensive. An Italian deli/butcher/caterer in Norwalk, CT is selling 2 packages for $1 in all shapes and sizes. Only English is "durum wheat pasta product."

FG another positive: 17.5 oz packages!

Edited by sammy, 27 March 2003 - 07:02 PM.

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#48 Craig Camp

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 10:31 AM

Yesterday I prepared penne con asparagi e ricotta with both the penne from De Cecco and Tuscancia from Trader Joe's and the Tuscancia was clearly superior to the De Cecco - richer almost nutty flavor with excellent texture.

This is a very easy dish to have for asparagus season -

Bring the pasta water to a boil

Mix ricotta, EVOO, black pepper (I use a quite a bit) and a good amount of freshly grated Pecorino Romano - it should be creamy

Peel the lower half of the asparagus and slice into 1 inch lengths - separate the tips

Put the pasta in the boiling salted water

When there is five minutes left in the pasta cooking time add the asparagus stems to the boiling water

When there is two minutes left in the pasta cooking time add the asparagus tips to the boiling water

When the pasta is al dente drain and toss the pasta and asparagus with the sauce

Serve immediately with more freshly grated Pecorino Romano on the side
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#49 cirpi

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 01:26 PM

For more expensive pasta my favorite is Latini.  I love how their textures just grabs at the sauce.

A vintner friend in Italy sent us two mixed cases of Latini and Latini soon became our favorite artisinal pasta. However, we discovered very early that cooking times are roughly 35 percent shorter than for Delverde, DeCecco and Barilla.

#50 Craig Camp

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Posted 29 March 2003 - 02:43 PM

For more expensive pasta my favorite is Latini.  I love how their textures just grabs at the sauce.

A vintner friend in Italy sent us two mixed cases of Latini and Latini soon became our favorite artisinal pasta. However, we discovered very early that cooking times are roughly 35 percent shorter than for Delverde, DeCecco and Barilla.

Cirpi - welcome to eGullet!

While I have found the de Cecco times to be very accurate it seems the smaller the producer the less accurate they are - for instance, Tuscancia always says 12 minutes on their labels no matter the shape. Experimentation and taste are the only sure answers.
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#51 Alex F

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 08:33 AM

While in NYC last year I found a fantastic Pasta Shop in Little Italy called Piemonte Ravioli Co. on 190 Grand Street. (Tel 212 226 0475).

They make many types of dried pasta including Ziti, Fettuccine, Farfelle, Marcaroni.

Apart from Pasta from Italia this is the best dried pasta I've found.

#52 Kikujiro

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 08:39 AM

De Cecco, Voiello, and Barilla's "Selezione Oro Chef" range. Of the artisinal stuff, Latini.

Edit: whoops, someone already mentioned Latini. That'll teach me to scan read.

Edited by Kikujiro, 31 March 2003 - 08:40 AM.


#53 mamster

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Posted 31 March 2003 - 10:53 PM

I'm more picky about some pasta shapes than others. For short pastas, which for me means penne rigate more often than not (I am a penne rigate fiend) I like Trader Joe's cheap house brand. It's definitely American-style, though, thinner than the De Cecco and more like Ronzoni. The ways I usually cook it (with vodka sauce or with tomato sauce and spicy Italian sausage) are awfully American in their own right.

For long shapes, I've liked Rustichella ever since I first used their bucatini for bucatini all'amatriciana.

Last time I was at Whole Foods they had a new artisan-looking brand in paper bags for a surprisingly low price, somewhere around $2 or $2.50. I tried some and it was quite good, but now I don't remember the name. I'll check next time I'm there.
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#54 Suvir Saran

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Posted 11 April 2003 - 11:34 PM

Is that true???
I heard a friend say this... I was not sure how true this is..
I have heard the same, and actually tasted the results of this in regards to sea food... but for pasta??? :rolleyes:

#55 beachcove

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 12:51 AM

true! also goes for potatoes.

#56 Suvir Saran

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 12:22 PM

true! also goes for potatoes.

Is this a legend I should have known?
Do most home cooks in Italy add much too much salt into the pasta water to make it as salty as the sea?
Or is it just a euphemism??

I am told it brings out the flavor of the pasta, is that true?

I love doing this with potatoes... in fact, I do it to my potatoes when making potato chips at home. At one point, Fat Guy had wanted to have me do a piece about this... In India, we always add a lot of salt into potatoes we are frying for chips or other snacks, it adds salt into the potatoes, so very little if any needs to be added later.

Please help me with my brine-ey dilemna. :rolleyes:

#57 The Camille

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Posted 12 April 2003 - 02:13 PM

Is this a legend I should have known?

Please help me with my brine-ey dilemna. :rolleyes:

The Art of Salting a Dish (click here for full story)

"Comrades, who can tell me what is the most difficult thing about cooking?"
The audience's interest was aroused, and they began to make guesses.
"Choosing the ingredients."
"Chopping."
"The actual cooking."
Zhu shook his head. "No, you're all wrong. It's the simplest yet the most difficult thing to do-the adding of salt."

Edit to cite: from Lu Wenfu's The Gourmet and other stories of modern China

Edited by The Camille, 12 April 2003 - 03:18 PM.


#58 trillium

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 11:13 AM

Isn't there some insult regarding cooks that has something to do with them not salting the pasta water enough? Something about saying the pasta wasn't salty enough means they're really bad cooks. My grandfather told me about it, but I've spaced out on the exact details.

regards,
trillium

#59 tunina

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 11:41 AM

My mother (and many others obviously) believe one must salt the water when cooking pasta. However, (sorry Mom) I rather adjust for salt in my sauce. In addition, grating cheese, especially pecorino romano adds a pleasant briny, salty edge that our household enjoys.

#60 tunina

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Posted 14 April 2003 - 11:47 AM

Oh, I forgot, but I also believe that salting the pasta water is an old peasant trick in order to flavor a inexpensive
pasta product. I rarely saw salt added to the pasta water when I worked in restaurant kitchens in Italy, especially when they cooked fresh pasta.





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