Lidia Bastianich’s advice for choosing the best dry pasta

In a People magazine article, Bastianich shares his advice on buying dry pasta. While some of the suggestions seem obvious, such as avoiding dust-covered cans or shortcrust pastry, as this may reflect the age of the pasta, other tips are more subtle and arguably more important.

Bastianich advises amateur cooks to buy pasta with a golden yellow tint and a rough texture. The color indicates that the pasta is made with 100% durum wheat semolina flour which has a higher gluten content than all-purpose pasta. Unlike blanched white varieties found for less than a dollar, pasta made with semolina flour can hold its shape when twisted (fusilli) or pressed (orecchiette) and doesn’t fall apart during cooking. Since semolina flour is more coarsely ground, it has a pleasant mouthfeel and texture (via Bob’s red mill).

The commercial mold that makers use to shape the pasta also contributes to the rough texture. Traditionally a bronze die was used, giving the pasta a rough, porous surface ideal for the sauce to cling to. A modern and less expensive way to form pasta is to use a Teflon die. Like your egg mold, nothing sticks to a Teflon die, leaving a smooth surface on the pasta, allowing the sauce to slide off. Expect to pay a few extra bucks for bronze-cut pasta, but it’s definitely worth it after your hard work on the sauce.