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So many pastas, so little time

So I admit it- I didn’t post yesterday because I sat around reading cookbooks. But I consider that research, right? I didn’t actually do any COOKING, but I had a lot of fun coming up with new ideas. And tonight I have a friend coming over for dinner… can we say “guinea pig”? (Hopefully she’s not checking my blog before she comes over!) Since she recently had her wisdom teeth removed, we need something easy on the mouth, so pasta sounds good. Fettuccine to be precise.

I am always amazed at the many varieties of pasta available when I go shopping. And there seem to be more every time I go. Generally speaking, pasta is simply a mixture of flour and water, although many different types of grains can be used, and sometimes eggs are used in place of water for the liquid component. Popular varieties I see include vegetables in the mix as well as whole wheat (for a heavier, nuttier flavor) or rice (used in gluten-free varieties). I’m sure readers can suggest others which they see in their own stores and neighborhoods. The history of pasta can be traced across the world and spans more than 3500 years, and yet it is almost universally associated with Italy. Pastas are grouped by ingredients as well as shape. The fettuccini that we are having tonight is a long, ribbon shape. And let’s not forget the sauces and toppings! From a light coating of oil and herbs, to heavy tomato sauces everyone has their favorities. Fettuccini is best served with lighter seasonings and creamy sauces, otherwise one will end up with a plate of toppings when the pasta is gone. Again, nothing is set in stone. I’m only going on information I found in my research.

Fettuccini should be cooked “al dente” or tender yet firm. Many people add oil to the water when cooking pasta to keep it from sticking, but sources say this is not neeeded and is indeed useless. Other sources say that a couple spoons of olive oil lends a bit of flavor and a nice aroma when cooking. But it is salt (along with occasional stirring) which is said to be the needed component to keep the boiling pasta from becoming a sticky gooey lump in the pot. And always be sure to use plenty of water, so the pasta has room to move around as it cooks. Cooking times will vary depending on what type of pasta and whether it is dried or fresh. Follow the package directions carefully, until you are comfortable with the type of pasta you are making. Practice makes perfect!

If any readers have favorite varieties of pasta, or helpful hints to share, we’d love to hear them!