Pasta is one of those foods that most people can say they enjoy. It’s a comfort food for many and something that can be made easily if you’ve had a long day and just need something to eat. When walking through the grocery store aisles, you might be used to seeing dried pastas such as spaghetti lining the shelves. What you might not know, however, is that fresh pasta is also one that is readily available in many stores and online companies like Gigi’s Pasta. If you have never made or eaten fresh pasta before, you might think that the process is identical to that of dry pasta. Though both can make delicious meals, fresh and dry pasta are quite different in flavor, texture, and cooking time.
The first thing to notice about fresh pasta is its texture when uncooked. Dry pasta is hard and brittle, but fresh pasta is much softer and can be in different shapes and styles than dry. Ravioli is a common type of fresh pasta that you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Dry pasta often comes in a box and is shelf stable, whereas fresh pasta is often in a bag and is often found in the refrigerated section.
There is also a difference in how the pastas are produced. Fresh pasta is often made of a dough using semolina flour and eggs, whereas dry pasta often is made of flour, water, and no eggs. Dry pasta is often easier to find and more suitable for vegans, but there are vegan fresh pastas available as well as recipes for vegan fresh pasta if you want to make it yourself. When fresh pasta is made, it is rolled out and cut into long noodles either by hand or by a pasta roller. For shapes like rigatoni, it is extruded through a pasta extruder in order to shape it.
When cooking dry pasta, you often need to boil the noodles for up to ten minutes. This is because there is no moisture in the noodles and they need to be rehydrated properly. With fresh pasta, it usually only needs to be boiled for a minute or two, especially if you made the dough at home yourself. Fresh pasta often has a chewy texture and unique flavor due to the use of eggs and lack of drying time. Dry pasta may be crunchier when you eat it, may stick to your teeth (al dente means “to the tooth” in Italian), or might be soggier depending on the cooking time. If you undercook fresh pasta, you are likely to eat pieces of raw dough and, if overcooked, your pasta will be mushy and may even fall apart in the pot of boiling water because of oversaturation. Both types of pasta can hold onto sauce well, but you may need to add more pasta water to your sauce when making dry pasta.
Both fresh and dry pasta have their advantages and disadvantages, but they are delicious in their own unique ways. When shopping for a type of pasta that will best suit you, taking these things into consideration will definitely help you in your cooking journey!