Important Terms to Know about Pasta
Before purchasing pasta, learn the following terms to help you communicate more easily with the seller:
Spaghetti: A staple of traditional Italian cuisine. Spaghetti is a pasta that can vary in length and circumference. It's traditionally made from durum wheat semolina, but today it is made from other types of flour as well. Many people use the word "spaghetti" interchangeably with "pasta." It has, therefore, become a somewhat generic term even though it specifically refers to long strands of pasta. In Italian, "spaghetti" comes from a word meaning "thin string."
Rigatoni: Rigatoni comes from an Italian word that means "ridged." This pasta is shaped like a tube. It traditionally has ridges along the exterior. Rigatoni can vary in size, but it is always larger than penne and ziti pastas.
Angel Hair: A very thin form of pasta that cooks quickly. It is a thin form of spaghetti.
Pasta Machine: A machine used to flatten pasta into long sheets. Most of them are adjustable, which allows users to make pastas of various thicknesses. Some also have pasta cutters built into them that can make spaghetti, fettuccine, ravioli, and other types of pasta. Although cooks can make pasta with a rolling pin, a pasta machine makes the process much easier and less time consuming.
Pesto: A pasta sauce made from olive oil and basil. Traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, today most people make pesto with a food processor.
Al Dente: Italian term for "to the tooth" used to describe pasta that has been fully cooked but is still firm.