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Jan 4, 2012 03:08 AM

Pasta: Fresh vs Dry

I'm taking a cooking class in Italy and just received a 28 page list of recipes to choose 3 from to learn. It is overwhelming.

I know I want to make at least one pasta dish. There are lists of different recipes for dry pasta and also fresh pasta.

My there a "rule" about using certain types of sauces for dry vs. fresh pasta? Is the type of pasta a regional preference?

And finally, do you make fresh pasta? Is it something that is difficult to learn to do really well or should I be happy to nail a couple of great sauces for dry pasta?

Thanks for your pasta guidance.

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  1. I'll happily stand corrected if I'm off-base, but I believe that the only rules about sauces are to match particular shapes.

    Fresh pasta is so amazingly good -- it's lighter, more tender (not squishy like it's overcooked, but has a better texture IMO) and marries with sauces in ways that dry pasta will never be able to do.

    Fresh pasta is time-consuming (the rolling and drying parts, as it has to be dried to some degree, or you'd just have wet dumplings) -- but easy and so worth it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sunshine842

      I've really liked the texture of fresh pasta, better then dried. I'm glad to get your input.

    2. My personal rule for fresh pasta sauces is to sauce it very minimally. Otherwise you overwhelmed the flavor/texture of the pasta you went to that trouble for. A bit of butter/salt/parmesan or some chopped fresh tomatos and basil or some pesto, etc. others may disagree.

      1 Reply
      1. re: danna

        Fresh pasta also makes heavenly ravioli/tortellini/other filled shapes. I recently had some fresh ravioli with cepes (porcini) and black truffles -- I did nothing more but melt a little butter over this, so the filling would stand alone. It was as heavenly as it sounds.

      2. In my experience, dried and fresh pasta are not interchangeable unless you have no other option. Most fresh is egg pasta, which has a different flavor and texture from commercial dried that is made from wheat (hopefully semolina is in there) and then extruded. It holds up heavier sauces and has a more rustic texture. Fresh pasta is not difficult to make, especially if you have a food processor and a hand-crank pasta roller. Otherwise, it can take some time to learn the techniques but certainly doable. If I was in Italy, I would want to learn how to make various filled pastas and some of the unusual pasta shapes.

        1. This time of year, I make fresh pasta every weekend. I don't make pasta in the summer. Too hot and humid. I've been making fresh pasta regularly for the past 2 years. I think it's easy. I make the dough in the food processor, let it rest, than roll it with my kitchen aid electronic rollers. It doesn't take that much active time. It is so delicious too.

          1 Reply
          1. re: msv

            Thanks for everyone's response. I'm going to request to learn two fresh pasta dishes. It would be great to be to make this at home.

          2. That sounds like tons of fun, DaisyM!

            Could you perhaps pose the same question to your cooking instructors in Italy and see what their take on it is? And please report back! Enjoy Italy!

            1 Reply
            1. re: seamunky

              Yes, I'm going to ask her and will report back along with the dishes we choose. I'll post the recipes when we get back and hopefully others will try them and enjoy.