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Undercooking is less common because undercooked pasta is crunchy and obviously difficult to chew. Overcooked pasta (much more common) is limp loses its shape easily and won t hold a sauce well. Unfortunately overcooked pasta is not salvageable so you ll have to throw it away and start again. The key to cooking pasta well is to keep testing it as you cook it. There will be a guide cooking time on the packet so about a minute before that time is up start testing the pasta. It is ready when it is slightly firm to the bite - a state the Italians call "al dente" (firm but not crunchy). At the al dente stage turn off the heat and drain the pasta in a colander. Shake the pasta to get rid of all excess water (be especially careful to do this if they are pasta shapes which catch pockets of hot water) and serve immediately. The pasta continues to cook while it s draining it in the colander so when you are testing remember that what you eat will be cooked for a minute or two longer than what you re testing in the pan.
Tomato pasta sauces are usually not very fattening at all! Americans also have a tendency to eat too much pasta - portion control is important when controlling calories. Italians traditionally serve pasta as a side dish or as one course of a multi-course meal; not in the large mounds that are so common in the United States. Along with being fattening pasta has been criticized for being a simple carbohydrates and lumped into the same category as cake pastries and white bread. The problem with all of these simple carbohydrates is that they spike your blood sugar resulting in excess insulin being secreted which encourages weight gain and a subsequent energy crash. Simple carbohydrates have a high Glycemic Index (GI) which is a number used to measure how quickly the body s blood sugar level rises after the ingestion of a food.
When you walk down the pasta aisle in the market how do you choose which pasta to buy and which to use for what purpose? There are flat pastas round pastas hollow pastas and twisted pastas. There is pasta that is made to look like rice (Italian orzo) and pasta that resembles gnocchi (potato dumplings). There are shells and tubes and then there is pasta that is made into shapes to fit the season. Do you want to serve your pasta with tomato sauce Alfredo Sauce (cream sauce) primavera (with lightly grilled spring vegetables? Do you want stuffed pasta and if so what do you stuff it with? Do you want pasta that is made from semolina ordinary flour or gluten free such as corn or rice pasta? Do you want squid ink pasta spinach pasta or tomato pasta or just plain pasta? The more you learn about pasta the more there is to know and the more bewildered you can get. The best quality pasta is made from semolina (hard durum wheat) and eggs with maybe a little salt and some olive oil thrown in.