Italian Pasta, a daily dish journey

Italian Pasta, do we really know this food product?

Italian Pasta, with its many shape and texture, is versatile, good tasty, healthy and pasta dishes are easy to prepare.

In Italy, according to rigid government control and legislation, dry pasta has to be made only from durum wheat flour called "semola di grano duro" and water.
The softer wheat flour is usually used for bread, pizza, and most of the "pasta all'uovo" that is the pasta made with eggs and that can be found fresh or dry, with a longer shelf-life.

The durum wheat flour instead is higher in protein and it better stands up to the complex pasta making process and its cooking.
Moreover, this flour provide pasta with a special flavor and texture, an essential feature that determine how well pasta combine with the sauce. It is important to remember that while in Italy it is not allowed, the dried pastas produced in Europe can be also made with softer flours, but the final product is something different.
You will realize it at the end of your pasta cooking process!

If you go to the supermarket you can choose among different dried pasta brands, but you have to remember that not all of them are alike.
Most of the Italian commercial brands produce valuable and good quality pasta. But if you look for outstanding products you should try the italian dry artisanal pasta.

Industrial dry pasta versus artisanal dry pasta, why are they different?

Artisanal dry pasta is a selected product that is generally made by small family-owned companies using the best quality durum wheat flour and following traditional processing methods. Most of the artisanal pasta producers elaborate their own durum wheat flour from locally and ideally grown wheat. This is the case for several artisanal pastas produced in Marche, a region in the centre-est of Italy.
Since 2003 some regions even decide to protect the artisanal pasta. For example the Consorzio Pasta di Gragnano has been recognized as the first PGI pasta in Europe. 

Shaping pasta

Different pasta formats are normally shaped and extruded using steel or teflon coated dies, while most artisanal producers use special bronze dies. In this way, the resulting shaped pasta has a porosity and a surface roughness that will perfectly combine with the sauce.

Drying pasta

The drying pasta process is also essential and determinant for the characteristics of the final product, specifically in terms of flavor.

Industrial factories generally tend to use higher temperatures for a short time. This strategy helps to keep lower the production costs and allows to obtain a pasta that can stand up the cooking process, even if the durum wheat flour used is not of the best quality.

On the contrary, artisanal producers use lower drying temperatures. In this way the pasta will stay humid for a longer time allowing the development of fermentation processes. Even if the intensity of these fermentations is really limited, they are very important to determine the more complex flavor of artisanal pasta. Moreover, low-temperature dried pasta has a higher quality nutritional value.

The different drying processing also determine a difference in color tonality of the final product. The pastas dried at higher temperatures appear more dark yellow, amber yellow, while pastas dried at a lower temperature has a more pale color hue. These different feature provide a practical and easy way to distinguish the higher qualify product. 

If you have never tasted an artisanal dried pasta, you should definitely do it!
You may realize that in a pasta dish the pasta itself will provide its own flavor and will perfectly marry with the suitable sauce.