Fresh or dried, long or short? We’re only asking the hard-hitting questions in the world of pasta. Read below to match with the pasta of your dreams!
Fresh vs. Dried
In these days of “fresh is better,” is fresh-made pasta really better? The answer to this isn’t so cut and dry. Fresh pasta isn’t simply better than dried pasta but works better with certain sauces and pasta dishes.
Fresh-made pasta is delicate and best served with sauces of the same nature. The dough of fresh pasta only has two ingredients: eggs and flour. Due to the raw egg in the mixture, it is best boiled in heavily salted water until it rises to the surface of the water. The cook time is far shorter than dried pasta and is more tender.
Its delicate texture is best paired with sauces made from fresh tomatoes, cream, oil, or butter. Classic fettuccine alfredo is made from cream and tossed with fresh fettuccine noodles, cheese, and some of the drained pasta water.
As with fresh pasta, dried pasta noodles are no better than its counterpart. Paired with the right sauce, dried pasta can taste just as delicious as the fresh stuff. Dry pasta is best suited for hearty dishes and can withstand being in soups and casseroles.
Dried pasta is made with semolina flour, water, and salt and is moved to the drying stage which removes most of the moisture in the dough and gives the pasta a firm shape. After cooking to al dente, the noodles are firm in texture and can withstand even the heartiest of sauces. One example is using dried rigatoni with a meaty ragù sauce. This sauce is more meat than liquid, and the firm structure of rigatoni will keep its shape and bite nicely.
Long Noodles vs. Short Noodles
When you think of long pasta noodles, the first one that comes to anyone’s mind is spaghetti, but that is not the only long noodle. Each type of noodle is made for a different purpose whether its shape is made for sauces to cling to or form a dish of its own, there’s a noodle out there for everything.
We’ll start from the skinniest of the long noodles which is vermicelli. Then comes angel hair or capellini which is made for lighter sauces or as an additive in soups. Next, is the ever so famous spaghetti which everyone knows is made to accompany meatballs. After that is bucatini, a less well-known pasta but the best long noodle for sauces because it has a small hole that runs through the middle of the noodle that stores sauce. Then comes linguine, famous for accompanying seafood dishes and then fettuccine for alfredo sauces. Then from the Tuscan region of Italy, pappardelle. Last but not least is the lasagna noodle. This stackable noodle is famously made for the most comforting dish, lasagna.
Short pasta forms the base for a multitude of dishes from macaroni and cheese to delicious ravioli. The list of short pasta noodles is endless, and most shapes are made so that the sauce will get in the cracks and crevices of the noodle.
Starting with probably the most well know short pasta, penne. Penne is excellent for any tomato sauce. Next comes farfalle, or bowties, which is typically used in pasta salads or cold pasta. Then the classic shell pasta made for the best macaroni and cheese dishes or baked stuffed shells. Gnocchi are a different kind of pasta; they are made from boiled potatoes and flour and have a bouncy, cloud-like texture. They are paired with very rich, smooth sauces and are great for special occasions. Next comes orzo, which is commonly mistaken for a kind of rice, but I guarantee no one will complain if you substitute orzo pasta for rice! Lastly is the well-known ravioli. Stuffed with anything you can possibly think of, from cheese to seafood, these are a crowd pleaser by any standard!