A Noodle by Any Other Name
The terms pasta, macaroni and noodles are often used interchangeably. But they are not
The terms pasta, macaroni and noodles are often used interchangeably. But they are not the same thing. Who would think that such a simple dish could be so complicated? OK, I can't resist saying it. It's time to use your noodle.
Pasta is the general term for the wheat product derived from combining semolina flour with liquid, usually water and/or eggs. Use water and you have macaroni, use eggs and you have noodles.
Semolina flour, made from durum wheat, is the flour of choice because of its high protein content. This provides the pasta with structure so it will maintain its integrity during fabrication and cooking.
It is resistant to water absorption, rendering it ideal for cooking pasta al dente, an Italian phrase translated as "to the tooth." It means that the finished pasta will have some resistance to the bite and not be overly soft.
Oh, and by the way, Marco Polo did not introduce pasta to Italy. Historical evidence reveals that pasta was being made in Italy in the 11th century, 200 years before Marco Polo. The earliest known evidence of pasta production goes back to about 1000 B.C. in central Asia.
Pasta is available in fresh and dried forms. While the dried, if left in a cool, dark place can last indefinitely; fresh pasta must be refrigerated and used within a few days. Fresh pasta also cooks much quicker than its dried counterpart.
Some folks add oil to the pasta water, believing that it will prevent the pasta from sticking. This is an absolute waste of time. Oil and water are chemically incompatible. The oil floats to the surface, thus preventing any mingling with the pasta.
Neither does salt prevent sticking. Salt is added to the water to season the pasta. What prevents sticking is placing the pasta in already boiling water, not overcrowding the pot, and stirring, particularly at the early stages of cooking.
Lastly, there is no reason to rinse your pasta after cooking. People who practice this usually harbor irrational beliefs about "starch." Starch is nothing more than carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are not evil and rinsing the pasta will reduce them only minimally. Most of the carbohydrate is in the pasta. Simply draining it removes most of whatever carbohydrate has leeched out during cooking. Rinsing only serves to un-season your pasta.
There are countless shapes and sizes of pasta and even more sauces that can accompany it. Here are two recipes, one of which is bound to appeal to you. One is low in fat while the second is more decadent.
The two recipes are below
PASTA WITH SAUSAGE & SPINACH CREAM SAUCE