Pasta

Some of the world's most iconic dishes are built around noodles, from spaghetti with meatballs to pasta salad to creamy, gooey macaroni and cheese. If you're making pasta recipes using dried wheat-flour pasta (the default for most Italian dishes), it's important to follow some simple pasta cooking tips: Salt the water liberally (don't add oil, it will make the noodles repel sauce), cook the pasta just to al dente (nothing's worse than gummy pasta), and never, ever rinse after cooking: You want the starch on the pasta to act as a magnet for sauce. Pasta comes in many shapes, and not just to entertain the kids - each cut is perfectly suited to a purpose. Thin, delicate angel hair pasta (cappellini) is best dressed with a light sauce like tomato, garlic and olive oil, while the wide tubes of manicotti (cannelloni) work great for stuffing with ricotta. Penne (rigate) has ridges that are great for capturing hearty sauces, and corkscrew shape of fusilli is perfect suited for creamy cheese sauces.

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