Kinds Characteristics and Quality Factors

Commercial dried pasta is made from dough that has been shaped and dried. To refer to this category of food, we sometimes use the term macaroni, meaning any dried pasta made from flour and water.These include spaghetti, lasagne, elbow macaroni,and many other shapes.

The best dried macaroni pastas are made from semolina, a high-protein flour from the inner part of durum wheat kernels. Lower-quality products are made from farina, a softer flour.

Specialty pastas include ingredients in addition to semolina and water. Whole wheat pasta may be made with all whole wheat flour or a mixture of semolina and whole wheat. Other grain flours, including buckwheat and farro (spelt), are used in other specialty items.

Spinach pasta is perhaps the most popular of the pastas that contain vegetable purées. Others include red peppers, hot chile, seaweed, beet, tomato, and pumpkin.

Pasta containing squid ink is black in color and goes well with seafood sauces.

When purchasing macaroni products (unflavored), look for a good yellow color, not gray-white.The product should be very hard, brittle, and springy, and it should snap with a clean, sharp-edged break.When cooked,it should be firm and hold its shape well. Poor-quality pastas are soft and pasty when cooked.

In addition to pastas made of flour and water, dried egg pastas are also available. They contain at least percent egg solids in addition to the flour and water. They are usually sold as flat noodles of various widths.

Fresh egg pasta is made from flour and eggs and, sometimes, a small quantity of water and/or oil. Use a regular all-purpose or bread flour. Hard semolina flour, used for factory-made spaghetti and macaroni, is not appropriate for fresh egg pasta. Softer flour makes a more tender pasta. Soft egg noodle products are also available fresh and frozen from manufacturers.They take less time to cook than dried macaroni products.

Other flours, such as whole wheat flour, can be used to make fresh noodles.When you are making them yourself,you can experiment with ingredients. Keep in mind that flours other than wheat flour don't form much gluten (see p. 895), so they should be mixed with some wheat flour. Buckwheat flour added to white flour makes especially tasty noodles that are featured in a northern Italian classic called Pizzoccheri (peet so kerry;p.648).

Top row: elbow macaroni, pepe bucato, radiatore, ziti, conchiglie.

Middle row: fettuccine; spaghettini; fusilli; (three small piles, from top to bottom) orzo, stelline, and ditalini; lasagne; spaghetti; (two small piles, from top to bottom) gemelli and rigatoni.

Bottom row: bow ties (farfalle), penne, manicotti.

Vegetable purées and other flavoring ingredients are often added to fresh egg pasta. Spinach, tomato, beet, mushrooms, fresh herbs, dried hot pepper, grated lemon zest, saffron, and squid ink are among the many possibilities.

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