How to choose pasta

pasta, tomatoes, peppercorns

Some believe that all pasta is the same, and there is no difference between them, so you should take the cheapest. Others, on the contrary, have extensive knowledge in the classification of pasta and have almost a dozen different options in the kitchen. Pasta is actually very diverse – not only in terms of shape, but also in terms of taste and composition. The choice of pasta is not something complicated and requires considerable knowledge – the only difficulty may lie in finding products that have the optimal price-quality ratio.

pasta, tomatoes, peppercorns

Groups A, B and C

On the packaging with pasta you can find information about which group they belong to. Group A is preferable to the other two. However, most pasta belongs to it. Sometimes you can find pasta of groups B and B – as a rule, these are the cheapest options, for example, “Red Price” from the Five and Crossroads.

What does the phrase “group A” mean? That pasta was made from flour derived from durum wheat, which contains a lot of gluten and little starch. Durum wheat pasta tastes better and has less effect on blood sugar levels (which is important, for example, for people with diabetes).

Group B pasta is made from flour derived from so-called soft wheat; pasta of group B – from baking flour.

Varieties

Pasta can be of the highest, first and second grades – depending on the grade of flour used for their production. Now, in my opinion, only the highest grade pasta is sold. I haven’t met anyone else. Naturally, the highest grade is better than the first and second.

Russian or Italian?

Why pay a lot of money for Italian pasta, when Russian ones are no worse? — so say many buyers. Often this question does not face the buyer at all: he takes a package with pasta, focusing only on the price, brand or design of the package itself.

Indeed, quite decent pasta is produced in Russia, and they sometimes turn out to be tastier than budget Italian counterparts. Another thing is that now many Russian pasta cost as budget Italian – if you take Italian, produced by order of large chains (Magnit, Perekrestok). For example, Pasta del Ricci made in Russia costs slightly more than Pasta del Ricci pasta produced in Italy by order of x5 Retail Group.

In any case, the best Italian pasta tastes better than the best Russian ones; moreover, they are much more diverse – in total there are more than a hundred varieties of Italian pasta! And many of them are available in Russian retail. Handmade pasta stands out especially, but now they are already very expensive.

Keep in mind that now, with the development of globalization, the pasta of Italian brands is no longer necessarily made in Italy. A prime example here is Barilla – some of the pasta of this brand is made in Greece, so if this is critical for you, you need to look at the labeling on the packaging.

A few interesting facts:

  • Italy produces pasta mainly from wheat imported from the United States and Canada.
  • All Italian pasta belongs to group A, because the production of pasta of other groups in this country is prohibited.
  • As a rule, pasta of real Italian brands is sold in packages weighing 500 grams, and pasta produced in Italy by order of Russian retail chains – in 450-gram packages. Russian pasta is packed in packages of either 450 or 400 grams; much less common are 500-gram packages.
  • Pasta of the most promoted Italian brand Barilla in Italy itself is 1.8-2.4 times cheaper than in Russia.

Package Weight

When comparing prices for pasta of different brands, pay attention to the weight of the package. Usually there are three options: 400, 450, 500 grams. Sometimes there are 200, 250, 350 grams. For example, a pasta for 45 rubles / 450 grams and a pasta for 50 rubles / 500 grams cost exactly the same in terms of a kilogram, and some elite Italian pasta for 100 rubles / 250 grams is more expensive than a pasta for 50 rubles / 500 grams not two, but four times.

Varieties of Italian pasta

There are just a huge number of them! I will mention only the most common ones available in Russian stores.

Farfalle (“butterflies”, “bows”) are one of my favorite varieties. They are comfortable to eat, they are original and beautiful looking. Small “butterflies” are called farfalette or farfallini. In Russia, in my opinion, pasta does not make this form.

Fettuccine, pappardelle, tagliatelle are long stripes with a width of 7, 13 and 5 millimeters, respectively. Eating them without proper skill is uncomfortable.

Fusilli, fusillini – spirals, “spindles”, if literally translated from Italian; they are made in large numbers in Russia. Fusilli is larger than fusillini; in general, “-ini” indicates a reduced size of the product.

Penne rigate are tubes with oblique cuts and a ribbed surface. There is also a subspecies of Penne lisce – with a smooth surface.

Cannelloni are very thick but short pasta with large cavities inside, which are supposed to be filled with minced meat and baked.

Lasagna are plates used to make lasagna.

Maccheroni – in fact, this is pasta (other types of pasta to call pasta is not entirely correct). Classic tubes, quite thick and short.

Vermicelli is what we know as vermicelli. The name comes from the word verme, which means “worms” in Italian. These are very thin pasta of medium length.

Spaghetti – Classic spaghetti, long and thin. There is a smaller version: spaghettini.

Conchiglioni are giant “shells” that can be filled with filling.

Colored pasta

It is worth highlighting the so-called colored pasta. They, like their “colorless” counterparts, come in various forms. High-quality colored pasta is colored only with natural dyes: red color is achieved through the addition of tomatoes, green – spinach. Cuttlefish ink can be used to produce a very dark color.

Colored pasta is more expensive than “colorless”. One of the most affordable in Russia are colored pasta brands DonnaVera (Magnit, 45 rubles) and pastaZara (Perekrestok, Victoria, 60-65 rubles). Both are made using only natural supplements.

Handmade paste

Such a paste is expensive. Often looks elegant and original, but it is also quite standard in appearance. It usually costs 150 or more rubles per package, and the package may not be 500 grams, but only 200-250. Suitable rather for gifts and for special occasions.

Some brands, prices and personal impressions

The red price is one of the cheapest pasta. Sold in Pyaterochka and Perekrestok, cost 9-10 rubles for a 400-gram package. The only pasta in the list belonging to group B (the rest are group A). In my opinion, a classic example of a product from the “cheap and angry” series. The taste is pretty mediocre.

Okay is a good budget option. They are in Perekrestok and Pyaterochka, cost about 20 rubles per 400 grams.

Just Pasta – in my opinion, excellent, with excellent value for money. It’s a pity that I only met them in one non-chain store, and then about a year ago. They cost 15 rubles / 400 grams.

Shchebekinskie – ordinary pasta, nothing special. The price, in my opinion, is overpriced. In Auchan – 36 rubles / 450 grams, in Pyaterochka – 37 rubles, in Perekrestok and Victoria – 39-40 rubles.

McFa is a little cheaper, but again not the best value for money. “Average” at a fairly high price. In Auchan – 32-33 rubles / 450-500 grams (depending on the variety), in Pyaterochka – 32-35 rubles, in Perekrestok and Victoria – 36-37 rubles.

Veroni – sold in Magnets, cost a little more than 20 rubles for a 400-gram package. Delicious, good value for money.

Now let’s move on to Italian pasta.

PastaZara – in my opinion, excellent value for money. They cost 50 rubles / 500 grams (colored – 63-65 rubles, natural additives). They are found in Auchan, Perekrestok.

Barilla is not bad, but it’s expensive. Overpayment for the brand and for a beautiful cardboard box. Pleases with a wide range, even in Russia. In Auchan – 70-75 rubles / 500 grams, in Perekrestok – from 80 rubles, in Magnolia and Victoria – from 90 rubles.

Trattoria di Maestro Turatti — Crossroads, 49 rubles/450 grams. Made in Italy by order of x5 Retail Group. Nothing much.

Pasta del Ricci – are in Perekrestok and Pyaterochka, cost 36 rubles / 450 grams. Similarly, Italy, but commissioned by x5 Retail Group. Good value for money.

DonnaVera – sold in Magnit, made in Italy by order of UAB “Thunder. They cost 45 rubles per 450 grams (in the “colored” version). In my opinion, great value for money.

ItalPasta – also produced in Italy by order of JSC “Thunder” (Magnit). They cost a little more than 30 rubles per 450 grams. In my opinion, quite ordinary, but at the same time quite decent pasta. However, I don’t want to buy again. By the way, it seems that there is another brand Italpasta, but I have not met its pasta in Russia.

Maltagliati is a native Italian brand; pasta of this brand are in Auchan and Victoria, cost about 60 rubles per 500 grams. Not a bad option, it is quite possible to buy.

Two main degrees of cooking

If in Russia pasta is boiled “to the end” and complete softening, then in Italy another method is common – “al dente”, when pasta is not cooked “to the end”, and the middle of them remains slightly hard and raw. It is believed that pasta al dente is healthier and tastier.

In most cases, the manufacturer’s recommended cooking time is indicated on the package with the paste.

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