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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.
Most manufacturers will put the recommended cooking time on the package. Pasta should always be cooked al dente which literally means to the tooth. You should be able to bite easily into pasta; it should not be hard or dry nor should it be mushy. If using the pasta for casseroles or lasagna the pasta may be slightly undercooked as more cooking will take place in the oven and the added sauce will be absorbed by the pasta and help to soften it also. Fresh pastas should be cooked in the same manner as the dried pastas but the cooking time will be considerably shorter. Fresh pasta usually cooks in one or two minutes. Always test the pasta by taking out a piece running it under cold water and tasting it to be sure it is the way you like it. Take your time and learn a little about each of the types of pasta. Start with one and try different sauces and meat variations with it. Once you have become familiar with one type (this can include different thicknesses) then move on and try another.
Once you have made your pasta dough it needs to be rolled out and cut to your desired shape. With the variety of pasta shapes and styles that task is a bit more demanding than it sounds and a good pasta maker can make the whole task a lot easier and more fun. Which Pasta Machine is Best? When shopping for a pasta machine there are a few things you should consider. A basic hand crank machine is not very expensive and has been good enough for centuries. These are fun and not difficult to master but you will be limited to what types of pasta shapes you can make. The most basic machines come with a cutting attachment for linguine and spaghetti. If you move up to a slightly more expensive machine there are usually additional cutting attachments you can use a few more varieties.