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Old 08-01-2006, 03:50 PM   #1  
Bewitchin' in the kitchen
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Canada
Posts: 11,506

Thumbs up Pasta 101!

Cooking pasta

Bring 4-6 quarts of water for 1 pound of dry pasta (adjust quantity of water if you are cooking less pasta) to a rolling boil.

Add past to the pot while stirring and then let the water return to a boil and occasionally stir the pasta while it is cooking.

Follow the pasta package directions for cooking times.

If the past is going into a dish that will require further cooking (i.e Lasagna, casserole, etc.) then undercook the pasta by 1/3 of the recommend cooking time indicated on the package.

Taste the pasta to determine if it is done. Properly cooked pasta should be “al dente”, or firm to the bite, yet cooked through.

When pasta is done drain in colander and serve topped with sauce of your choice or if part of a recipe follow the rest of your recipe’s directions.


The only times you should rinse pasta after draining it is if you are making a cold dish, such as macaroni salad, or if you are not going to put sauce on it right away. If this is the case then rinse your pasta under cold water and drain well. This will stop the cooking process.

To prevent past from sticking use plenty of water and don’t overcook it.


Uncooked pasta can be store in a cupboard for up to 1 year if kept in a cool, dry place.

Cooked pasta can be stored the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days and you can keep the pasta from sticking together by adding a bit of oil (1-2 tsp per lb of cooked pasta) to the container.

Sauces should be stored in a separate container as cooked pasta continues to absorb flavours and oils from the sauces.

Pastas used in baked recipes (lasagne, large shells, ziti, manicotti) can be frozen. Best results will be obtained by preparing the recipe and freezing instead of baking it first. To bake the dish thaw it out at room temperature first and then bake.

Types of pasta:

Alphabet - usually used in soups

Angel Hair or Capellini - (“Fine Hairs”) thin strands, best with thinner sauces, can be used in soups and stir fries.

Conchiglie (medium shells)- great when added to soups or used for pasta salad.

Ditalini- (“Little Thimbles”) looks like little tubes, versatile and can be used in soups, salads and baked dishes.

Egg noodles - medium size ones can be baked, used in soups and salads and tipped with a variety of sauces. Large egg noodles are great in stroganoff, soups and casseroles.

Farfalle - (“Butterflies”) Bow tie shaped pasta great in soups and salads, thick shape holds sauce well.

Fettuccine - (“Small Ribbons”) great for heavy or creamy sauces.

Fusilli - (Twisted Spaghetti) - long spiraled shape good for any type of sauce, bakes well in casseroles.

Jumbo shells - Usually stuffed with meat, cheese and vegetables and then baked and topped with tomato or cream sauce.

Lasagne - used in baked dishes, usually in layers with meat, cheese, vegetables, cheese and sauce - great made ahead and frozen for later use.

Linguine - “(Little Tongues”) long and wider than spaghetti, great with all types of sauces.

Macaroni - (“Dumplings”) a versatile pasta that can be topped with any sauce, baked, used in soups, salads and the perennial favorite “Mac ‘n’ Cheese”!

Manicotti - (“Small Muffs”) long, tube-like - usually stuffed with a mixture of meat, cheese and vegetables and topped with tomato or cream sauce and then baked. Can be made ahead and frozen for later use.

Orzo - (“Barley”) small, grain shaped - can be used in soups or casseroles and can be topped with any sauce.

Penne (“Quills”) or Mostaccioli (“Small Mustaches”) - tubular shaped pasta goes well with sauce, in salads or baked dishes.

Radiatore- (“Radiators”) ridged shaped pasta holds sauces well, works great in baked casseroles, pasta salads and soups.

Rigatoni- (“Large Grooved”)- has ridges and holes which makes any type of sauce especially chunky style.

Rotini - (spirals or twists) - this shape works well with any sauce as the twists hold them well. They can be used in salads and baked dishes.

Ruote - (“Wagon Wheels”) - fun in salads, casseroles and soups or simple pasta dishes.

Spaghetti - (“Long Cord”) long strands - good with any type of sauce.

Vermicelli (“Little Worms”) thinner than spaghetti, good with any type of sauce, as a salad or in stir fries.

Ziti- (“ Bridegroom”)- medium sized tubular pasta which goes well with meat sauce on chunky vegetable sauce. Great in salads and baked dishes.

Saucy Ideas!

Toss cooked pasta with a little olive oil, min ed garlic, fresh tomato and basil (chopped). Add salt and pepper to taste and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Take jarred roasted red peppers (packed in water, not oil) and puree with fresh basil leaves - put in a sauce pan and gently heat until warmed through for a nice pasta sauce.

Add chopped fresh veggies to any store bought sauce on pasta for a quick meal.
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