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PERFECT PASTA

If you've ever tossed delicate angel-hair pasta with 
a thick, hearty sauce, you know some
pasta pairings are better than others. We've grouped 
the various shapes, suggested some 
sauces they work well with, and included a recipe.

Long and Thick

* Fettuccine nests, Bucatini, Fusilli, Fettuccine
* Best with: Hearty or assertive sauces, such as meat 
or cream-and-cheese are best.
* Tomato-Cream Sauce. 
Bring two 14 1/2-oz cans pasta-ready tomatoes to a boil. 

Add 1 cup heavy cream; heat through. 
Toss with 1 lb hot cooked fusilli.

Long and Thin

* Vermicelli, Capellini, Capellini nests, Spaghetti
* Best with: Simple, light tomato sauces or soupy shellfish 
ones--anything that won't
overwhelm the pasta.
* Spicy Dried Tomato Sauce. 
Cook 1 Tbsp minced garlic in 1/2 cup olive oil 2 minutes 
to soften. 
Add 1/2 cup sundried tomato pieces, 
1/4 tsp each crushed red pepper and salt, then 
1 1/4 cups chicken broth. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes. 
Toss with 1 lb hot cooked capellini.

Tube Shapes

* Elbow macaroni, Penne rigate, Cut ziti, Rigatoni, 
Penne
* Best with: Chunky meat and vegetable sauces. Also 
in baked pasta dishes.
* Red Pepper-Ricotta Sauce. 
Cook 1 lb penne, adding 2 cups frozen green peas the 
last 2 minutes. 
Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. 
Add the water, 
15 ounces ricotta cheese, 
a 7-oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, 
and 
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. 
Toss and serve with Parmesan cheese.

Small Shapes

* Pennette, Acini di pepe, Orecchiette, Tubettini, Conchiglette, 
Orzo
* Best with: Soups and vegetable side dishes in which 
the vegetables are cut small.
* Pasta and Bean Soup. 
Simmer 3 cups chicken broth, 
a 15-oz can chick-peas and 
1/2 cup orzo until orzo is cooked through. 
Garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive 
oil.

Catchers

* Ruote, Radiatore, Farfalle, Conchiglie, Rotini, Rotelle, 
Gnocchi, Cavatelli
* Best with: Chunky sauces easily caught in the ridges 
and cups. Also great for pasta
salads and baked dishes.
* Ranch Pasta Salad. 
Toss 1 lb cooled, cooked Radiatore with 
1 cup Ranch dressing, 
2 cups quartered cherry tomatoes, 
1 cup cooked shredded chicken, and 
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.

What's in a Name?

Next time the kids shout, "What's for dinner?" 
tell them little worms with meat sauce.
Stars, peppercorns and, yes, even little worms are all 
English translations of the Italian
names for various pasta shapes. And while Italians have 
more than 200 recognized
shapes to choose from, we rarely see more than 50 on 
this side of the Atlantic. Here's a
guide to 35 of the most widely available pastas, from 
acini de pepe to ziti.

PASTA...              MEANS...
Acini de pepe         peppercorns
Anelli                little rings
Bucatini              little hollows 
Cannelloni            large reeds
Capellini             fine hairs
Conchiglie            shells
Ditali                thimbles
Ditalini              little thimbles
Elbow macaroni        dumplings
Farfalle              bowties or butterflies
Fettuccine            small ribbons
Fettuccine verde      small green ribbons
Fusilli               twisted spaghetti
Gemelli               twins
Linguine              small tongues
Mafalda               girl's name
Manicotti             small muffs
Mostaccioli           small mustaches
Orecchiette           little ears
Orzo                  barley
Penne                 quill pens
Perciatelli           small pierced
Radiatore             radiators
Rigatoni              large grooves
Rotelle               spiral shaped, larger than rotini
Rotini                spirals or twists
Ruote                 wagon wheels
Spaghetti             a length of cord
Stellini              little stars
Tagliatelle           cut noodle
Tripolini             little bows
Tubetti               little tubes
Tubettini             tiny tubes
Vermicelli            little worms
Ziti                  bridegrooms

Freezing Pasta

As a rule, pasta doesn't freeze well. The best shapes 
for freezing are those used in baked
recipes. For best results, prepare the dish, then freeze 
it. To bake, thaw in the refrigerator
and bake as recipe directs.

Make Over Your Own Pasta Recipes
Fat-cutting tips from our Test-Kitchen Experts

When a sauce is thickened with butter and flour and/or 
lots of heavy cream, switch to
chicken broth and milk and thicken them with cornstarch.

Try reduced-fat cheeses. Or cut down the amount of full-fat 
cheeses and beef up flavor
with a small amount of Parmesan.

Cut down the amount of any bacon called for, use ground 
turkey instead of beef and
turkey, Italian sausage instead of pork sausage.

Add extra vegetables--carrots, peppers, mushrooms to 
meat sauces so there's less meat
per serving.

Perfect Pasta

Pasta is easy to cook well, but it's just as easy to 
end up with a pot of library paste if you
ignore the basics.

Use a large pot and plenty of water. While cooking, 
the pasta needs to circulate freely.
The general rule: Four to six quarts of water per pound 
of pasta.
Bring the water to a rapid boil before you add the pasta.
Cover the pot at this point. The lid will hold in the 
heat and help the water boil more
quickly.

Add the pasta slowly. For "short goods," such 
as macaroni, stir the boiling water with a
long-handled spoon while pouring in the macaroni. When 
cooking long pasta, such as
spaghetti, hold the bundle at one end and gradually 
bend the pasta around the inside of
the pot as it softens, then stir. Keep the water boiling 
and stir it now and then so the
pasta doesn't stick together or settle in a lump on 
the bottom. Add salt to the water if
you wish.

Keep the pasta moving and the pot uncovered. Adjust 
the heat so the pasta keeps
boiling (and moving), but not so high that it cooks 
too fast. Since covering the pot holds
in heat and may cause the pasta to boil over, leave 
the lid off at this point.

Set a timer as soon as the pasta is boiling. Check the 
package for the recommended
cooking time, but set your timer for two or three minutes 
less to avoid overcooking the
pasta.

Check for doneness. Remove a piece of the pasta, rinse 
it quickly with cold water so you
don't burn your mouth, then bite into it. Perfect pasta 
should be slightly firm in the
center. If it's not quite cooked, set your timer for 
an additional minute and test again. If
the pasta is to be baked in a casserole, cook it slightly 
firmer than pasta to be eaten right
away.

Pour the cooked pasta into a colander set in the sink. 
To help empty shapes that may
catch water, pick up the colander and swirl or shake 
the pasta several times. If pasta will
be served right away with a sauce, just drain and serve. 
If it's headed for a salad or
casserole, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking 
process. A very small amount of
butter or olive oil tossed lightly with the pasta will 
also help keep the strands separate.






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