FAQs

Why is American-made pasta the best you can buy?
Who "invented" pasta?
How is pasta made?
Is pasta fattening?
How do you cook pasta perfectly every time?
Should I rinse the pasta after I drain it?
How do I keep pasta from sticking?
Does all pasta contain egg?
How much cooked pasta does one pound of dry pasta make?
How should I store pasta?

Why is American-made pasta the best you can buy?

American manufacturers have to follow strict ingredient and manufacturing standards that comply with stringent government regulations, so American-made pasta is the highest-quality pasta available. American-made pasta is enriched with iron, folic acid and other B-vitamins, making it one of the most healthful foods you can buy. American pasta plants are technologically advanced, with state-of-the-art equipment and highly skilled personnel.

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Who "invented" pasta?

Popular legend has it that Marco Polo introduced pasta to Italy following his exploration of the Far East in the late 13th century; however, we can trace pasta back as far as the fourth century B.C., where an Etruscan tomb showed a group of natives making what appears to be pasta. The Chinese were making a noodle-like food as early as 3000 B.C. And Greek mythology suggests that the Greek God Vulcan invented a device that made strings of dough (the first spaghetti!).

Pasta made its way to the New World through the English, who discovered it while touring Italy. Colonists brought to America the English practice of cooking noodles at least one half hour, then smothering them with cream sauce and cheese. But it was Thomas Jefferson who is credited with bringing the first "maccaroni" machine to America in 1789 when he returned home after serving as ambassador to France.

The first industrial pasta factory in America was built in Brooklyn in 1848 by, of all people, a Frenchman, who spread his spaghetti strands on the roof to dry in the sunshine.

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How is pasta made?

1. Mixing
American dry pasta is made with semolina, which is produced by grinding kernels of durum wheat. Sometimes other hard wheats are also used. The semolina is mixed with water until it forms a dough. If any other ingredients are being added to the pasta, such as eggs to make egg noodles, or spinach or tomato to make red or green colored pasta, those ingredients are added at this stage.

2. Extruding
The dough is kneaded until it reaches the correct consistency, and then it is pushed, or extruded, through a die, a metal disc with holes in it. The size and shape of the holes in the die determine what the shape of the pasta will be. For instance, dies with round or oval holes will produce solid, long shapes of pasta, such as spaghetti. When the extruded pasta reaches the right length, it is cut with sharp blades that rotate beneath the die.

3. Drying
The pasta is then sent through large dryers which circulate hot, moist air to slowly dry the pasta. Because different pasta shapes vary in degrees of thickness, they dry for different lengths of time. Most take 5 or 6 hours to dry.

4. Packing
The dried pasta is then packed in bags or boxes. Some of the more fragile pasta shapes, such as lasagne and manicotti, are often packed by hand to protect them from breaking.

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Is pasta fattening?

Weight gain cannot be blamed on any single food or food group. Eating too much of any food can make you gain weight. The reality is that all calories count. Even if you eat large amounts of fat-free foods, you may find yourself gaining weight. There is no “magic diet” - the key is to eat all foods in moderate portions, and in the context of an overall healthy diet coupled with regular exercise.

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How do you cook pasta perfectly every time?

1. Boil 4 to 6 quarts of water for one pound of dry pasta. (You can divide this recipe depending on how much pasta you are cooking.)

2. Add the pasta with a stir and return the water to a boil.

3. Stir the pasta occasionally during cooking.

4. Follow the package directions for cooking times. If the pasta is to be used as part of a dish that requires further cooking, undercook the pasta by 1/3 of the cooking time specified on the package.

5. Taste the pasta to determine if it is done. Perfectly cooked pasta should be "al dente," or firm to the bite, yet cooked through.

6. Drain pasta immediately and follow the rest of the recipe.

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Should I rinse the pasta after I drain it?

The only time you should rinse pasta after draining is when you are going to use it in a cold dish, or when you are not going to sauce and serve it immediately. In those cases, rinse the pasta under cold water to stop the cooking process, and drain well.

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How do I keep pasta from sticking?

Use plenty of water (4-6 quarts for each pound of pasta) and don't overcook it. Follow the package directions for cooking times. Follow the steps above for perfectly cooked pasta every time.

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Does all pasta contain egg?

No. Government regulations specify that egg noodles must contain 5.5 percent egg by weight in order to be labeled an egg noodle, but most other pasta does not contain egg. Because American pasta manufacturers must list all ingredients used in their products, read the list of ingredients to determine whether the pasta you are purchasing contains egg.

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How much cooked pasta does one pound of dry pasta make?

It depends on which shape you're cooking, but you'll get a pretty close idea from this chart:

Type of pasta Uncooked weight = Cooked amount
Small to medium pasta shapes
(Elbow Macaroni, Medium Shells, Rotini, Twists, Spirals,
Wagon Wheels, Bow Ties, Mostaccioli, Penne, Radiatore, Rigatoni)
8 oz. uncooked = 4 cups cooked
Long pasta shapes
(Spaghetti, Angel Hair, Linguine, Vermicelli, Fettuccine)
8 oz. uncooked or
1 1/2 inch diameter bunch
= 4 cups cooked
Egg Noodles 8 oz. uncooked = 2 1/2 cups cooked

 

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How should I store pasta?

Uncooked Pasta
Store uncooked, dry pasta in your cupboard for up to one year. Keep in a cool, dry place. Follow the "first-in, first-out" rule: Use up packages you've had the longest before opening new packages.

Cooked Pasta
Refrigerate cooked pasta in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. You may add a little oil (1-2 tsp. for each pound of cooked pasta) to help keep it from sticking. Because cooked pasta will continue to absorb flavors and oils from sauces, store cooked pasta separately from sauce.

Freezing Pasta
The best pasta shapes for freezing are those that are used in baked recipes, such as: lasagne, jumbo shells, ziti and manicotti. You'll have better results if you prepare the recipe and freeze it before baking. To bake, thaw the dish to room temperature and bake as the recipe directs.

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