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There are all manner of pasta and range in price from one dollar a pound on up to $10 a pound or more for hand-made pasta. Before we go too crazy here and make your mind spin with all the pastas available let s just get down to basics and explain the differences between the most commonly used pastas how they are normally used and the types of sauces that go well with them. We will start out with the flat pastas which include lasagna linguini fettuccini and papparadelle. Dried Lasagna noodles are usually about 2-3" wide and can be purchased in boxes either uncooked or precooked. Domestic lasagna noodles are longer than the imported ones; however most of the imported ones are of a better quality. You can usually also purchase fresh pasta which can be used for lasagna from your local Italian deli. Lasagna may either be served simply with a Bolognese (meat) sauce with shredded parmesan or more traditionally as a layered casserole.
In order to flavor the twisted pastas for salads it is good to toss the pasta with the dressing just after draining. If you do this while the pasta is still warm they will absorb the flavor of the dressing and taste better. In addition to the twisted pastas there are shells which come in several sizes. The larger of the shells are great for stuffing with cheese or meat. They then can be served with marinara Bolognese or seafood sauce. The stuffed shells can also be arranged in a casserole covered with sauce and some mozzarella cheese and then baked. This type of dish is also great to make ahead freeze and the cook when needed. To cook a frozen pasta casserole place the whole thing while still frozen in a cold oven. Once the casserole is in the oven you can then turn the oven on to 350 degrees and let it cook.
For those on a strict diet however pasta can be made without eggs while the flour and olive oil content still make this pasta healthy. Another option is to use dried pasta. This pasta usually does not contain eggs or oil but is made from 100% semolina flour and is quite firm when cooked. The firmness of this pasta helps lower the GI index to less than bread potatoes and white rice while still providing vitamin B fiber and iron. Dried pasta can be stored up to 3 years but be sure not to store your pasta in glass containers as the sunlight depletes the vitamin B. Is Pasta healthy in other ways too? Yes homemade pasta can be quite healthy. It is not difficult to learn how to make pasta and homemade Pasta can be made even more nutritious with the inclusion of whole wheat flour spinach garlic and herbs that add to the vitamin mineral and fiber content of the pasta. Fiber is another nutrient often lost in modern diets but fiber is necessary for digestive health hormonal balance and the prevention of certain types of cancers.