Dried pasta, known as pasta asciutta in Italy, is made from hard durum wheat flour or semolina, which has a high protein content. The flour is blended with water, shaped and dried. It was traditionally a product of southern Italy, where the best durum wheat is grown and where the climate facilitates the slow-drying process, but it has become a true global staple. Who hasn’t got a spare packet of fusilli or rigatoni in the pantry?
Paired with a robust meat or seafood sugo, a tomato-based meat or spicy sausage ragu, or tossed simply with olive oil, garlic and chilli, al dente pasta can be a thing of beauty and a quick and satisfying meal.
Fresh pasta, pasta fresca, comes predominantly from central and northern Italy, where it’s not as warm and the pasta is made to be eaten immediately rather than dried. It is made with plain flour and eggs, although a small quantity of semolina is sometimes included; the egg protein prevents the pasta from becoming brittle and falling apart. When cooked the texture is soft and silky and it’s richer than dried pasta.
The perfect sauce for fresh pasta depends on its shape. Narrow ribbon pastas such as tagliolini go well with light cream sauces or tomato based sauces while wider fettuccine, pappardelle or maltagliati are perfect matches for slow meat braises and heavier creamy sauces. If you’re feeling lazy, there’s nothing better than tossing through a knob of butter and grating fresh parmigian oreggiano on top.
Fresh pasta is the base ingredient for filled pasta – ravioli, tortellini – and is often infused with squid ink, nettles, capsicum, spinach or saffron. Making fresh pasta is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it’s not as difficult as you might think. There’s a sense of immense satisfaction that will outweigh all the mess!
At Bel & Brio we use fresh pasta for our ready meals and sell dried pasta in the Marketplace , so we have the best of both worlds.