Whether we’re twirling it on our forks or baking it into a creamy, cheesy American casserole, there's no denying that we love pasta. According to the National Pasta Association, Americans alone eat about 19 pounds per person per year. Of course the average Italian — who eats pasta daily — consumes about 56 pounds. Italians also make the most pasta in the world, producing nearly 3.5 million tons a year. Yet, despite our love of these starchy noodles, we’d be willing to bet our weight in dried penne that most people don't actually know very much about it.because it is made with little more than wheat flour and egg yolks, it is highly perishable. Dried pasta starts with a paste made of flour and water which is then passed through an extruder or pressed into molds to create various shapes. It is dried for several days at a low temperature, so that the moisture evaporates, making it shelf-stable. Dried pasta was made out of necessity — it traveled and stored well.
Though pasta is traditionally (and most commonly) made with wheat flour, gluten-free varieties are available for those with allergies or sensitivities to the gluten found in wheat flour. Gluten-free pastas are typically made with rice, quinoa, or corn flours.
If all this talk of pasta is making you hungry, go put a big pot of well-salted water on to boil (and please, no oil — it’ll just make the pasta sauce slide off the noodles) and read on. We've got 14 fun pasta facts to keep you busy until your noodles reach a perfect al dente.
Al Dente Pasta Keeps You Fuller Longer
Additional reporting by Recipe Editor Milagros Cruz.