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You need to buy rock sea salt possibly harvested from the Mediterranean sea. PASTA SECRET #3: PASTA BUT ONLY THE RIGHT ONE! Pasta of course must need to be made only with 100% Durum Semolina but that is not enough. The serious pasta lover distinguishes pasta from pasta. Buy only imported Italian pasta and make sure it is made in Italy (the pasta package could say "Imported from Italy" but actually made somewhere else). Do not trust huge companies like Barilla that actually make their pasta locally. Their quality is not the same. Also do not trust a packaged pasta just because it has an Italian name. Check that the package reads "Made in Italy". Use the best pasta available. I recommend you look for Italian favourites like De Cecco or Voiello that you can find at your local grocery store or supermarket.
Some of the hollow or tubular pastas are elbow macaroni (most often used for macaroni and cheese or macaroni salad. Elbow macaroni usually comes in two sizes. The large size is great for casseroles and the smaller sizes are good used in soup such as minestrone or vegetable. Large width tubular pastas are ziti which again comes in several sizes penne rigatoni and cannelloni. Cannelloni are usually about 3 inches long and are served stuffed with a cheese or meat filling and topped with a marinara or meat sauce. The twisted pastas include Fusilli Bucati Gemeli Rotelli (Wagon Wheels). The twisted pastas are good for heavy sauces. Their shape will help to retain the sauce whereas with the smooth thin pastas the heavy sauces will just run off back into the plate. Fusilli are also nice for seafood pasta salads.
In almost every case if it is written in English you will be told to cook the pasta way beyond its Al Dente phase. Why? Because most Americans are used to pre-cooked pasta at restaurants prepared hours in advance (gag!) and placed in a refrigerator to be reheated with your chosen sauce when you order. Or they are accustomed to (Oh my God no) canned pasta products. So while you can use the cooking time as a guide the key to perfect pasta is to drain it the minute it begins to fold easily and still has a bit of crunchiness to it. The only way you can achieve this is to keep an eye on it. Stir it regularly as it boils and test it with a fork or spoon. Remember once you drain it the pasta will keep cooking on its own. By the time you add it to your sauce or accompaniment over a moderate heat in a pan it continues to cook as well. This technique is called In Patella or In The Pan in Italian. Thick macaroni products (ziti farfalle rotini) will take slightly longer to cook than spaghetti varieties. The thinner the spaghetti variety the Less time it will take to cook al dente. Angel hair pasta can take less than two minutes to cook if your going to finish it properly In Patella where it will continue to cook or soften. And Never Ever Ever rinse pasta. You will destroy its flavor make it soft and destroy the ultimate pasta experience. So remember Never Ever Ever rinse pasta. Another excellent professional pasta cooking tip is to save a cup or so of the cooking water before draining in the event that your pasta needs more moisture when you add it to your sauce or accompaniment. Adding fresh water will destroy the pastas flavor as if you have rinsed it. So just in case keep a cup of the cooking water handy.