Video: How to Make Colourful Pasta

Watch video at Business Insider (4:50 minutes) . . . . .

Nine Ways You’re Cooking Pasta Wrong

Kate Krader wrote . . . . . . . . .

In 2017, Italy landed the No. 1 spot on the Bloomberg Global Health Index. Eating all that pasta pays off.

If there’s a chef in the U.S. who can offer advice on the subject, it’s Missy Robbins of Lilia in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Bloomberg pronounced the restaurant a “pasta destination” in a 2016 review after it opened. Lilia has earned praise from David Solomon, Goldman Sachs’s next chief executive officer, and has lured Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. In her 2017 cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner … Life: Recipes and Adventures From My Home Kitchen (Rizzoli), Robbins divulges some of her favorite recipes, from 30 (garlic) clove sauce to fettuccine with butter and truffles.

As Robbins has mastered the art of pasta cooking, she’s become militant about the steps that go into creating a perfect bowl (and occasional plate) of the stuff. Here’s her advice on where you may be going wrong when you do it.

1. You use a small pot.

“Even if it looks way too big, grab a large pot,” Robbins says. “And add more water than you think you need. There should be enough space for the pasta to move around so that it cooks evenly in water that’s at a rolling boil. If it looks like your pasta is crammed in a hot bathtub of simmering water, you were too skimpy with your pot and your water. And remember that heavily salted water is essential.”

2. You add oil to your cooking water.

“Here’s the short reason why: It prevents sauce from sticking to the pasta. It’s basically like adding a raincoat to whatever shape you’re using, which is not what you want in a finished dish.”

3. You grab a colander.

“If you’re draining your pasta in a colander in the sink, you’re losing all the cooking water—and that water is an important ingredient for a great dish. Some pots have a basket insert, which is a larger version of the pasta baskets we use in restaurants. You can also buy one separately. Alternately, you can remove pasta from the pot with tongs for long shapes or a spider or large slotted spoon for small ones. Just remember to work fast as you extract the pasta from the water.”

4. You discriminate against the classics.

“Buying expensive artisanal pasta in eye-catching shapes isn’t essential to making a delicious dish. I happen to love the De Cecco brand—it cooks evenly, has good flavor and consistent quality. Whatever brand works for you, use it.”

5. You pour sauce on top.

“You’ve seen those images on jars of someone pouring sauce onto a mountain of pasta: They are completely wrong. If you’re serving a sauced pasta, you should always add the pasta to a pan of sauce and finish cooking it there. These last few minutes are crucial: They ensure that the pasta absorbs more flavor. Allow for that additional time by undercooking your pasta a little bit in the boiling water. And add spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water you reserved to the sauce as you stir the pasta; it will be a little bit thick from the starch of the pasta and help thicken and flavor the sauce.”

6. And you use too much sauce.

“You don’t want your pasta that you’ve cooked so carefully to be swimming in a pool of sauce, no matter how tasty that sauce is. Allow for 1 ½ to 2 cups of sauce per pound of pasta. There should be next to nothing in your bowl or on the plate when you serve it.”

7. You believe pasta belongs on a plate.

“I use bowls to serve almost all pastas, from long strands of spaghetti, fettuccine, and mafaldini to short shapes like rigatoni and gnocchi. Pasta is more comfortable in a bowl, it’s more fun to eat, and there’s less chance of cooling down quickly. The exceptions to my rule are flat-bottomed pasta, namely ravioli but also varieties like the coin-shaped crozetti, which can get broken up if they’re jumbled in a bowl.”

8. You think pasta is just for cold weather.

“Not all pasta sauces need to simmer. Case in point: One of my favorite recipes in the book is a no-cook cherry tomato sauce, which works any time you’ve got decent little tomatoes. If you like garlic (I’m raising my hand), spring is the best time to make a sauce with it. Use spring garlic, scapes [the flowering green stalks], along with regular garlic—a celebration of garlic, if you will. It adds so much more depth than just regular garlic.”

9. You throw out the leftovers.

“Almost any leftover pasta, with the exception of stuffed ones, can have a second life as a very delicious frittata or baked dish. Add a few beaten eggs, a lot of grated cheese, and any other ingredients that sound tasty such as cooked sausage and bake in a 350°F oven in a baking dish or heatproof skillet.”

Source: Bloomberg

Italian Chefs in the U.S. Rated Different Types of Pasta

Lee Breslouer wrote . . . . . . .

We asked Italian chefs in America from coast to coast about the type of pasta they thought was overrated and underrated. These chefs will tell you why you should avoid certain noodles and start ordering ones you might never have considered in the first place. These are the most overrated and underrated pastas.

Fabio Viviani, chef/restaurateur at Siena Tavern, Chicago, Illinois

Overrated: Fusilli

“They’re impossible to do by hand, so there’s no artistry behind it. People [still] love fusilli though!”

Underrated: Spaghetti chitarra

“It’s underrated because not many people know about it. You need a special wooden machine to make them, but it comes out as perfect square spaghettis.”

* * * * * *

Salvatore Marcello, chef at Mamo, New York, New York

Overrated: Orzo

“Orzo is often used in pasta salad, but it overcooks easily and lacks texture and true pasta flavor. It also has a slimy mouthfeel. When you eat it, you don’t feel the comfort of a plate of pasta, which is a huge loss!”

Underrated: Paccheri

“This very Neapolitan [pasta] shape is a classic in my home. It has a nice bite, and the large rings hold the sauce well, giving each bite texture and flavor. They go well with many types of sauces (ragù, Genovese, seafood), which is why I usually serve it as a special — I don’t want to limit its versatility by having it on the menu in just one style.”

Silvia Barban, executive chef/co-owner at LaRina, Brooklyn, New York

Overrated: Black ink linguine

“Everyone goes crazy for the color and the shape, but I don’t think it gives much of a different flavor, especially if the sauce is already really good. I think it’s just something about the look and aesthetic, so people want to order it and see it on their plate. It’s funny, too — in Italy, people are scared about that color of pasta as it’s not very traditional, but here in NYC everyone goes crazy for it!”

Underrated: Strozzapreti/strangolapreti

“Strozzapreti or strangolapreti (aka “choke the priest”) is a type of pasta that a lot of people don’t know about, or get too scared to try it. The pasta is originally from Emilia Romagna, and is very good with every sauce — even with fish. It has a great texture, stays al dente, and has a linguine thickness to it but is shorter. You can also use it with ragù or vegetable sauces. I love it! In my restaurant, my business partner’s mother comes from Italy, and she always makes it for us to eat personally, as well as for the customers. It makes everyone happy.”

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Bart Retolatto, chef de cuisine at Gran Morsi, New York, New York

Overrated: Penne

“Penne is overrated because it’s everyone’s default pasta. It’s on almost every Italian menu and unlike fusilli col buco or strozzapreti, it doesn’t work well with sauces. It’s a short shaped pasta, which is overused.”

Underrated: Fusilli col buco

“Not many restaurants use it, but a lot of Italian-Americans and families grew up using fusilli col buco. It’s a fun, playful shape that sauce adheres really well to.”

Matthew Prokopchek, chef/owner at Trattoria Roma, Columbus, Ohio

Overrated: Gomito (aka elbow)

“It’s usually been oversaturated with cheese or Hamburger Helper. Although it is a good pasta for children to eat.”

Underrated: Cavatelli

“It can be a stand-alone pasta with light sauce, a side, or as an alternative to gnocchi. What’s great about cavatelli is the variety of uses. Ricotta adds a smooth texture, and is lighter than fettuccine. Other starches can be used in the dough, such as purple potatoes or leftover polenta. If you overcook them, they can still be eaten. For a home cook, it’s a way to [prepare] something other than a dried pasta and add some diversity to their meal.”

* * * * * *

Jeff Michaud, head chef and culinary director at Osteria, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Overrated: Penne

“Penne reminds me of all the Italian-American dishes like penne alla vodka and penne alfredo. Although there’s nothing wrong with those dishes, I am somewhat of a traditionalist and feel that if you’re going to take time to make a nice pasta dish — use rigatoni and make cacio e pepe or all’amatriciana. The classic Italian dishes are always the simplest and stand the length of time.”

Underrated: Any pasta made with squid ink

“People tend to shy away because of the color. When squid ink is used in the dough, it adds a little fish flavor and saltiness from the sea, which can really shine through in the dish.”

[ . . . . . . . ]

Read more at Thrillist . . . . .

Is Pasta Healthy?

Trisha Calvo wrote . . . . . . .

The low-carb diet craze is pretty much over, but misconceptions linger. Take pasta, for example. “Pasta doesn’t deserve its bad rap for being unhealthy or fattening,” says Amy Keating, R.D., a dietitian in Consumer Reports’ food lab. Cutting pasta out of your diet isn’t the magical path to a slimmer you.

Regular dried pasta (not fresh) is made from refined flour. However, that flour is durum wheat (semolina), a variety that has a higher protein content than most other types.

According to researchers at the University of Sydney, the way the carbohydrates and protein in pasta are bound means that pasta is digested more slowly than other refined carbohydrates. Therefore it might keep you full and release blood sugar (glucose) into your body more gradually, which could help with weight loss. Cold pasta is also a source of resistant starch, which may also aid weight loss.

Nor is there any evidence that cutting out pasta because it contains gluten will help improve your health or drop pounds. Unless you have celiac disease, there’s no reason to avoid gluten.

Regular white pasta is a refined grain product because the germ and bran of the wheat—where much of the fiber and nutrients are—is removed. It’s not devoid of nutrition, though. In addition to 6 to 7 grams of protein, white pasta has about 2 grams of fiber per cooked cup, and most brands are enriched with B vitamins, such as folic acid, and iron.

“Whole grains are the preferred choice, but there is room in your diet for some refined grain products,” Keating says. So celebrate National Pasta Day tonight by cooking up some noodles. Just follow these suggestions for making pasta healthy.

Use a Measuring Cup

The Nutrition Facts label on a pasta package lists 2 ounces as the serving size, which for most shapes is ½ cup. That’s for dry pasta, which will become about 1 cup when cooked. A cup of pasta may feel a little skimpy for dinner, so if you’re having it as a main course, a 1½- to 2-cup cooked portion is fine. Two cups of cooked spaghetti (loosely packed) has 389 calories, and 2 cups of penne has 336 calories.

Cook It Al Dente

Italian for “to the tooth,” al dente pasta is cooked all the way through but is still firm when you bite into it. It tastes better that way, and overcooking pasta means it will be digested more rapidly.

Top It Right

You probably know that cream, cheese, and meat can significantly bump up pasta’s calorie and fat counts. But you don’t always want to be limited to just tomato sauce, which is lower in calories. You can round out a 1-cup serving of pasta and keep the calorie count low by mixing it with a cup of cooked vegetables. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss with any vegetables you like. In the fall and winter, roasted root vegetables (such as beets, carrots, onions, and parsnips) or winter squashes are a great choice. Asparagus and peas are nice additions in the spring. And in the summer, you can’t go wrong with fresh tomatoes and basil. For a hit of protein, add chicken or beans, such as cannellini or chickpeas.

Check the Sauce

Jarred tomato sauces tend to be high in sodium and sugars, so be sure to compare nutrition facts labels on different brands. For example, Bertolli Tomato & Basil Sauce has 350 mg of sodium per ½ cup. It contains added sugars, too, with 11 grams per ½ cup (some naturally present in the tomatoes). Muir Glenn Organic Tomato Basil Sauce has just 4 grams of sugars (all from the tomatoes) and 310 mg of sodium. You can also make your own quick sauce using canned crushed or diced tomatoes, which usually contain very little or no sodium and no added sugars.

Try Pasta Alternatives

There are many more whole-wheat and bean pastas on the market today than there were even just a few years ago. These products vary in nutrition from brand to brand, and there can be huge differences in taste and texture. Compared with white pasta, whole-wheat has more than twice the fiber. Chickpea pasta can supply four times the fiber and twice the protein.

Source: Consumer Report

The Easy to Make Ultra-rich Tomato Sauce from A Michelin-starred Chef Works with Any Pasta

Kate Krader wrote . . . . .

Missy Robbins is New York’s reigning queen of pasta.

She presides over the kitchen at Lilia in Brooklyn, a place that’s become an obsession with a huge swath of the city, including Trumps and multiple Goldman Sachs executives. One of its best-sellers is rigatoni diavola with San Marzanos (tomatoes), chiles, oregano, and pecorino.

It’s based on a recipe Robbins only recently mastered: a luxurious tomato sauce, rich with oil and loaded with sweet caramelized garlic and a hit of heat.

For a long time, Robbins didn’t even serve tomato sauce. It wasn’t on the menu when she cooked at Spiaggia in Chicago (where she was a favorite of the Obamas)—the upscale Northern Italian restaurant didn’t serve red sauces. Nor was it offered at A Voce in New York, where she won Michelin stars. It wasn’t until Robbins took a few years off to get a respite from the intensity of restaurant life that she began perfecting tomato sauces in her home kitchen. When she opened Lilia, in early 2016, one of the first dishes on the menu was the rigatoni in spicy tomato sauce.

“This is one of the most satisfying sauces to make,” she continues. “Everyone loves it because it has that extra hit of flavor from the toasty garlic. If you’re having a dinner party, there’s no one that will not be thrilled with it.” It’s also one of the most versatile sauces to make, she asserts, ticking off the options: “You can make it spicier. You can make it into a fake Bolognese by adding browned meat. You can make it heartier vegetarian with mushrooms.” It also goes with almost any pasta, though Robbins favors it with shorter shapes such as rigatoni, ziti, and radiatore.

It also improves on classic tomato sauces by featuring sumptuous pieces of tender garlic that are first cooked in a generous olive oil bath, which simultaneously tenderizes the garlic and flavors the oil before the tomatoes are added. In most tomato sauces the garlic is finely chopped; if it’s not, it’s discarded. Robbins believes in the allure of garlic that’s tender and sweet and perfumes the sauce. “Why throw out the garlic? Why not celebrate it?” she asks. And for those who plan ahead, the sauce can be frozen for as long as six weeks. If you don’t want to count out all those garlic cloves one by one, she says, just use “what would normally be an outrageous amount of garlic, and you should be covered.”

Asked if she would ever sub in a jarred sauce in an emergency—after all, there are several good options out now, like Rao’s—Robbins laughs. “I never, ever buy jarred tomato sauce. Why would you, when you can make something so satisfying so quickly. You instantly become an Italian grandma when you make this luscious sauce. There’s nothing that compares to it.”

Cooking cloves whole, and slowly, is definitely not conventional. In Italy, cooks frequently remove the garlic after sweating it, so it’s not physically in the sauce. The version below celebrates the garlic. But don’t worry: The olive oil poaching softens the stinky edge, so the next day, your breath won’t betray that.

40-Minute, 20-Garlic Clove Tomato Sauce With Pasta

This recipe is adapted from Missy Robbins’s new cookbook, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner … Life: Recipes and Adventures from My Home Kitchen. It’s good for just about any shape of pasta you can find.

Serves four, plus leftover sauce.


2/3 cup olive oil
20 garlic cloves (about 1-1/2 heads of garlic), peeled (see tip below)
Two 28-oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp crushed red chile flakes
2 basil sprigs
Kosher salt
1 lb dried pasta (Robbins prefers short shapes, like rigatoni)


In a large, heavy saucepan, warm the olive oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic cloves, and gently simmer until softened and just beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the canned tomatoes in a colander. Transfer the tomatoes and any purée in the colander into a food processor and pulse two or three times until the tomatoes are very roughly chopped. (Tester’s note: If you like using your hands, squeeze the tomatoes to break them up into large chunks.)

Using a fork or the back of a spoon, crush half the garlic cloves in the oil; leave the remaining cloves whole. Add the tomatoes, fennel, and chile flakes to the saucepan and simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the basil, season well with salt, and simmer for about five more minutes, until the sauce is richly flavored.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until just al dente. Drain, reserving some of the pasta cooking liquid. Cook the pasta in about 2 cups of the sauce, basting the pasta, until al dente; add a little pasta cooking water if necessary. Refrigerate or freeze the remaining sauce for another use.

Garlic tip: To quickly peel garlic, put the separated cloves in a large bowl. Invert another large bowl on top and shake hard for several seconds. This will release the skins from the cloves. Discard the skins.

Source: Bloomberg