what makes quality pasta:

 If you look at quality dry pasta in an uncooked state, you can typically tell the difference by comparing color, dimensions and purity.

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 In superior quality pasta you can see it has a golden yellow color that is free of defects or specks in the pasta. Compare that to inferior pasta that will typically have a slight grayish or darker brown color with lots of small specks inside. These defects are caused by either poor wheat quality, inferior manufacturing techniques or intentional blending of durum or other wheat flour with the semolina to cut costs. This dry visual test is always a good starting point in evaluation.

Take a look at cooked pasta and use some additional criteria to determine quality. Look at color and aroma, texture, elasticity and the amount of patina - or film on the pasta. A great pasta will cook up to a bright yellow that is free of defects. It will have a light nutty flavor. And, even if the pasta is a little overcooked, it will have an excellent ‘al dente’ texture, and will have same resiliency in holding its shape - most important is to retain the "Al dente" characteristic.

Helpful Cooking Tips: 

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How Much Pasta to Cook?

Long Pasta Linguine, Spaghetti, or Vermicelli:
4 ounces dry = 2 to 3 cups cooked
8 ounces dry = 4 to 5 cups cooked
16 ounces dry = 8 to 9 cups cooked

Short Pasta Macaroni, Penne, or Rotini:
4 ounces dry = 2 1/2 cups cooked
8 ounces dry = 4 1/2 cups cooked

Fine or Medium Egg Noodles:
4 ounces dry = 2 to 3 cups cooked
8 ounces dry = 4 to 5 cups cooked

PERFECT PASTA Cooking Instructions

Use ONE GALLON of water and 2 TBSP of salt for every POUND of pasta you cook.
Add pasta to RAPIDLY BOILING water
Stir pasta occasionally to help prevent sticking
Cook until pasta is done. Pasta is done when tender, but firm. Adjust time for different sizes and products.
DO NOT OVERCOOK. If pasta is to be used as part of a dish requiring further cooking or will be on a steam table, under cook by a ¼.
Drain pasta to stop cooking action. Do not rinse unless recipe instructs to do so
For pasta salads, drain and rinse with cold water

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Recipes:

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