Fresh Pasta Versus Dried Pasta: What’s the Difference?

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Fresh Pasta versus Dried Pasta: What’s the Difference?

There is something to be said about the power of the word “fresh”. You hear it (or read it) and suddenly it makes the food it’s attached to sound more appealing. What if that isn’t always the case? We judge the virtues of fresh pasta versus dried pasta and tell you which one to use!

The fact is fresh pasta isn’t better than dry pasta! They’re just appropriate for different kinds of dishes. Hashtag equality, because neither is necessarily better than the other.

How they’re made: fresh pasta versus dried pasta

You usually make fresh pasta from a simple dough of eggs and flour. You knead the dough and press it through rollers until it’s as thin as you like it or as the recipe requires. It can become noodles or it can be formed into tortellini and ravioli. Fresh pasta has a shorter shelf-life, which means you have to cook it ASAP in order to get the most of it.

Fresh Pasta versus Dried Pasta: What’s the Difference?
Tortellini and ravioli are made by hand from eggs and flour.

Dry pasta is made from finely ground semolina flour, salt, and water – it usually has no eggs, which means it’s more vegan-friendly. The two ingredients are mixed into a paste, which is pushed through molds and cut into a multitude of pasta shapes! After that, it’s dried at a low temperature for a few days until the moisture has evaporated. This means it can be stored for a long time.

Most varieties of pasta, like penne, tagliatelle, fusilli, and lasagna sheets are available fresh and dried, so the way you cook them depends on the sauce!

So what’s the difference? 

One obvious difference is the price in the supermarket (that is if you are not making your own): fresh pasta tends to be more expensive than dried pasta. Perhaps that’s why people tend to assume fresh is better than dry.

Fresh pasta is more tender and is usually the centerpiece of the dish. It takes about half the time to cook than dried pasta. Because it has a delicate texture, it works best with light sauces, made with tomatoes, cream, oil, herbs, meat, cheese, or butter. It’s great for fettuccine Alfredo or carbonara.

Fresh Pasta versus Dried Pasta: What’s the Difference?
Dried pasta can hold heavier sauces without collapsing under them.

Dried pasta works better with heavier dishes like casseroles, ragu sauces, vegetables, fish, and soups. It’s stronger and holds up better with other ingredients. Most shapes double in size when you cook them. Let’s say that four people can have a great meal with a pound of dried pasta, while the same four people would be satisfied with one and a half pounds of cooked pasta. If a recipe calls for al dente pasta, then choose dried.

What about you? Which one do you think wins the fresh pasta versus dried pasta competition?

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