Pasta – Your Ultimate Flexible Friend

Pasta has been popular since the times of the Roman Empire and remains one of the most flexible cooking ingredients – no storage cupboard should be without it. It can freshly prepared with your pasta machine and then cooked and mixed with beef, fish, vegetables, fruit, or maybe an easy herb sauce to make a mouthwatering and healthy meal inside minutes.

Most pasta is created from durum wheat flour and contains protein and carbohydrates. It’s a good source of slow-release energy and has the extra advantage of being good value. There are as much as 200 different pasta shapes and about 3 times as many names for them.

New shapes are being designed and named all the time and the same shape could be called a different name in different regions in Italy. Some kinds of pasta are the agnolotti, anelli, bucatini, cannelloni, capalletti, ditali, elicje, farfalle, fettuccine, fusilli, lasagne, linguini, macaroni, penne, ravioli, rigatoni, spaghetti and tagliatelle. Many can be discovered in both dried and fresh forms, but unless you can access to a good, Italian delicatessen, it is not worth purchasing fresh unfilled pasta, even from shops that sell top quality tortellini, capalletti, ravioli, and agnolotti. Best of all is to make fresh pasta at home in a pasta machine. It takes a small amount of time, but is reasonably easy and definitely worth the effort.

You can mix the dough by hand or prepare it in a mixer. Pasta might be coloured and seasoned with additional ingredients that are typically added with the whisked egg. To cook pasta, first bring a large pan of gently salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and one big spoon of olive oil, but don’t cover the pot or the water will boil over.

Quickly bring the water back to a steaming boil and avoid overcooking. When the pasta is tender, but still firm to the bite, drain and toss with butter, olive oil, or your prepared sauce. The cooking times provided here are guidelines only : – Fresh unfilled pasta : 2-3 mins – Fresh filled pasta : 8-10 mins – Dried unfilled pasta : 10-12 mins – Dried filled pasta : 15-20 mins Pasta can be employed to make anything, from soups to more significant pasta-based meals, which are great as a tasty starter, or as a quick and simple lunch or light dinner.

Pasta Types

If you are avid fan of Italian food and like to dabble in the kitchen then a pasta maker machine can be a fabulous toy. Without one pasta can just be plain impossible to get right, but with one making fresh pasta from scratch suddenly becomes quite easy. Don’t be fooled into thinking that all pasta makers are the same however, as not all of them will allow you to make a full range of different types of pasta. This is a quick reference guide to the different types of pasta that the machines may have listed in their product descriptions so that you can see what you will be able to make with your new machine.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti is one of the three types of pasta which all machines will make. These are long thin tubes which are used in Italian favourites such as spaghetti Bolognese and spaghetti carbonara. Lots of pasta machines will also have settings to let you choose how thin or fat you want your spaghetti strands.

Lasagne

The second type of pasta is lasagne. These are the large flat sheets of pasta which are used in the over-baked dish lasagne al forno. Although this may seem quite simple to make without the help of a machine, the appliance will actually let you roll them much thinner than you would easily be able to do manually. This lets them cook quicker and you can produce a dish with many more layers of pasta and meat.

Fettucini or Tagliatelle

Fettucini are long ribbons of pasta which are known as tagliatelle outside of Rome. These are also most commonly found in carbonara dishes or fetuccini alfredo. These are the other pasta which virtually all pasta makers are equipped for.

Linguine

Linguine, which translates to English as ‘little tongues’ are like a flattened spaghetti. These are commonly used in the Campania region of Italy and are the pasta of choice in many seafood dishes. If your pasta maker offers fettucini then it is quite likely that it will also be possible to make linguine.

Ravioli

My personal favourite, ravioli are the small parcels of pasta which have a filling inside, which is most often some type of cheese or meat, but can be almost anything you fancy. Choosing a pasta maker which can also make ravioli will let you get a lot more choice in terms of the meals you can prepare with your pasta maker. Ravioli are a very fiddly pasta to make manually and having this feature on your pasta machine will no doubt save a lot of time and irritation!

Macaroni

Macaroni, or maccheroni, is popular in the US in the dish macaroni cheese. These are the small tubes of pasta which are curved around to give a shape which is kind of like half a tyre. Being able to make macaroni with your pasta maker may be a great bonus if you have kids as they usually find it much easier to eat than messy spaghetti.

Other Shapes

Some of the fancier makers may also let you make many more shapes and styles of pasta, although if you can make each of the different types described here then you will be able to use these in a diverse range of Italian cuisine. Any extra shapes that you can make may be a bonus but are not necessary to make the pasta maker a worthwhile investment for your kitchen.

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