Unfortunately, pasta often has a reputation as not being so healthy. Pause here, as that is not true.
If consumed reasonably, pasta is healthy, especially pasta made with a single variety and organic grains such as Monograno Felicetti. Pasta is one of the staple ingredients of the Mediterranean diet; according to much research, it is one of the most beneficial diets/lifestyles one can follow.
As science keeps on discovering the benefits of this healthy and tasty approach to nutrition that can prevent up to 70-80% of chronic diseases, more people realise the Mediterranean diet is not a fad. The Mediterranean diet is a lifestyle adjustment that can improve the quality of life and prolong it while beneficial to the environment. The best part is - it tastes great and is not that difficult to follow.
Pasta is a carbohydrate that is easy to digest. Therefore, it is considered one of the most versatile ways to get your energy when eaten in average amounts. When prepared with extra virgin olive oil, fish, cheese or vegetables, a pasta meal provides protein and gives the body the necessary amino acids, calcium and vitamins.
What pasta grain is the healthiest choice?
KAMUT® Khorasan and Farro kinds of pasta would be your best choice.
- KAMUT® Khorasan pasta
The Kamut Khorasan variety of durum wheat is an ancient grain that dates back several thousand years and, it is a non-hybridized ancestor of modern durum wheat. This grain is high in fibre and has about 40% more protein than regular wheat that most people consume. But, more importantly, much recent research confirmed that when compared to modern wheat, KAMUT® Khorasan has notably higher antioxidant levels (polyphenols and selenium) and higher minerals (magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc).
- Farro pasta
The Celts, Egyptians, and Etruscans used this type of wheat thousands of years ago. Farro is nutritious pasta full of proteins, vitamins A, B, C, E, mineral salts and is an excellent source of fibre, antioxidants and polyphenols. In addition, farro pasta is very easily digested, even by those who have difficulty with other wheat products.
Although some people with gluten intolerance find both of these kinds of pasta to be more digestible than regular wheat, KAMUT® Khorasan and Farro do have gluten and are not a good choice for those who have Celiac disease.
Adding extra virgin olive oil to pasta reduces the glycemic index.
If you've ever eaten a plate of pasta in Italy or an Italian restaurant, you know that it comes with a healthy glug of extra virgin olive oil on top. However, you probably did not realize that this glug makes your pasta healthier since it reduces the glycemic index of the entire meal, making the carbs easier to digest. A group of Italian scientists published an extensive paper proving these beneficial characteristics of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for diabetes patients.
However, do NOT add olive oil to your cooking pasta water! Adding it will make your pasta taste worse and make it very slippery, meaning your sauce will not stick.
The text below will explain how to cook pasta the right way.
Fresh or dried pasta, which one is better?
Many people think that fresh pasta is superior to dried pasta, but this is like comparing apples and pears. These two types of pasta are different, so there is no comparison; there is no winner here. Fresh pasta you cook to enjoy it soft, while dry pasta, you cook "al dente" to enjoy it at its fullness.
How to match pasta with sauces?
Pasta sauce matching is taken seriously in Italy. But, we admit, by us too. It just makes the whole pasta dish taste a lot better. Some sauces are better with fresh pasta, some with dried pasta, some with short, some with long pasta.
A general rule for matching pasta is that the thicker the sauce, the thicker pasta, the smoother pasta, the thinner the sauce, or the rougher pasta surface, the thicker the sauce.
Dried pasta such as spaghetti is suitable for all sauces. However, any Italian will beg you not to match it with spaghetti when it comes to Bolognese. Spaghetti Bolognese is not an Italian thing but a failed attempt to copy the original Pasta Bolognese. If using spaghetti, the sauce will not stick to the pasta. According to Italians and many chefs, the best (and correct) pasta to make a traditional Bolognese is tagliatelle.
Tip: Grand Cru Fonte di Foiano is the best olive oil with your Bolognese pasta; it is a sure winner with its black pepper, cinnamon, and almond notes!
With meat ragus (including Bolognese), a great pasta is also short dried pasta such as penne with a rougher surface such as penne rigate, penne ritorte and rigatoni. Their surface is fantastic for the sauce to stick, while its tubes will hold sauce inside.
If you wish to make a traditional Carbonara, skip all unnecessary additions (cream, onion, garlic, herbs) and stick to the original recipe - the most straightforward and best one. The traditional recipes require only these ingredients - eggs, Pecorino Romano cheese, Guanciale (pork cheek), freshly ground pepper and most importantly, best quality spaghetti.
The best pasta salad choice would be short and hearty pasta like fusilli, fusilloni, penne and farfalle. These types of pasta are easy to eat, but also they are fantastic to trap dressings and any additions of your choice, whether they are veggies, cheese or fruit.
What about tomato sauces and pasta?
Funny enough, Italy was not aware of tomatoes until the 16th century. Spaniards brought tomatoes to Italy from the New World. First tomatoes were paler than today's tomatoes, thus its name "pomo d'oro" or "golden apple". The usage of tomatoes in sauces came only in the 19th century.
In countries with not as much sunshine as in Italy, to get a full-flavoured tomato sauce is best to use tomato cans or jars (plum tomatoes, Roma, or San Marziano). Tomato-based sauces are great with spaghetti and shorter types of pasta.
How much pasta should you serve per person?
If serving pasta as a starter dish, you should prepare per person between 50 and 90 g. Suppose doing it as a main dish, between 100-110 g per person.
Tip: Always have your sauce ready by the time you finish cooking pasta.
How to cook pasta?
The pot should be high and broad. Use 1-litre water per 100 g of pasta. Add 10 g of coarse sea salt per litre of water before it comes to a boil. Add pasta in vigorously boiling water, and stir after 20-30 seconds. Cover until the water goes back to boiling. Remove the lid and cook pasta according to cooking instructions. Stir pasta once or twice during cooking to prevent pasta from sticking together.
Towards the end, test one or two pieces of pasta to see if it is to your liking. But, please do not cook it for too long. One of the most famous Italian Michelin-star Chefs, Carlo Cracco, says:
"Pasta is serious business. One thing is for sure. It must always be 'al dente'. If we lose the texture and taste of the wheat, it's game over."
You should save a bit of pasta cooking water, as this can be useful for making your sauce better, especially if the sauce is too dry or too thick. Avoid rinsing pasta, which will wash away the starch coating, and the sauce won't stick.
If you are cooking long pasta, you can use tongs and transfer the pasta directly to the pot with the sauce.
How to serve pasta?
Serve the pasta hot. If you are serving long pasta, you should eat pasta only with a fork. In Italy, you use spoons only for soups or soupy pasta, but never with spaghetti.