Monday, October 1, 2007

Ciao Italia Welcomes You to National Pasta Month!

Today Mary Ann Esposito, host of Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito™, television's longest-running cooking show, kicked off National Pasta Month with five great tips for cooking the perfect al dente pasta

"There are so many ways to concoct a good pasta dish these days that there's no excuse to resort to those so-called 'fancy frozen' or canned, ready-to-serve types," offered Esposito. "When eaten in moderation and in small portions, pasta should be a part of any healthy diet. I am forever surprising people at cooking seminars when I tell them that a pound of pasta serves eight people when they want it to serve two! To keep things in perspective and in control, I keep one of those handy spaghetti measuring tools in my kitchen. It looks like a thick ruler withholes, and each hole holds a specific amount of pasta, so it is very useful when you want to gauge how much to cook for the number of people you are serving."

As an additional National Pasta Month feature, later this week, and every week this month, Mary Ann will share pasta recipes from her upcoming cookbook, Ciao Italia Slow and Easy, due in stores Nov. 13.

Mary Ann Esposito's Five Tips for Perfect Pasta

Serving a perfect plate of al dente pasta is not as easy as it seems - unless of course you are in on some useful tips. Here are five of Mary Ann's favorites that will guarantee success every time.

1) Use a pasta pot with an insert for easier draining and always start with 4 to 6 quarts of water to allow the pasta to expand properly.

2) Pasta is cooked when you can break a long strand or short cut in half and see that no white flour is visible in the center.

3) Some people add oil to the cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking together. This is a bad idea. The oil coats the pasta, making it harder for sauces to adhere. If you follow rule #1, you won't have to worry about the pasta sticking together anyway.

4) Short cuts of pasta such as ziti, penne, and fusilli are best served with chunky-style sauces. Use lighter sauces, such as garlic and olive oil or butter and cheese, for thinner types of pasta such as linguine or fettuccine.

5) Cooked pasta for oven-baked casseroles should be undercooked and still firm when added to the rest of the ingredients because it will finish cooking in the oven. Reduce the pasta boiling time by four minutes for casseroles.

1 comment:

CiaoFan said...

These are the same tips my Italian Grandmother gave me a long time ago. That's what I love best about Mary Ann Esposito - she reminds me of my youth and my heritage. She's a true Italian!