RISOTTO-STYLE PASTA: WHAT IT IS AND HOW TO MAKE IT

Risotto-style pasta has become one of the most popular cooking methods used by catering industry professionals as it allows pasta to mix in better with the condiment. This technique is much appreciated and is now frequently used at home too, not only because it adds even more aroma and flavour to pasta dishes, but also because risotto-style pasta is really easy to make. However, it is important to follow certain steps when cooking it, which are similar to the ones to be followed when making risotto: first of all, you need to heat a frying pan and lightly toast the pasta, then add the necessary liquid part a little at a time, and continue stirring until it is completely absorbed by the pasta.

One of the key steps is the so-called “mantecatura” (creaming), a process whereby the starch released by the pasta plays a crucial role, as it mixes with the condiment and thickens it, making it creamier. This certainly brings out the flavour, but for best results, two other aspects must be taken into consideration: choosing the pasta shape and the type of condiment.

RISOTTO-STYLE PASTA: SHAPES AND CONDIMENTS

As for choosing the pasta shape, two different methods can be followed, depending on the thickness and size of the pasta: with thin pasta shapes (small thickness), the boiling hot cooking liquid is poured directly into the pan onto the uncooked pasta; with thicker pasta shapes (large thickness), it is advisable to pre-cook the pasta for half its cooking time, and then start the process.  

In both cases, the cooking liquid, which is added a little at a time until it covers the pasta, must be boiling hot so that the temperature remains consistent. It is best to dose it well to make sure the pasta cooks evenly, and then stir continuously, as if making risotto. This will release the starch, which is essential for creating a delicate, creamy emulsion that is characteristic of this method. A wooden spoon will reduce the risk of it breaking into pieces.

As for condiments, the most suitable ones for risotto-style pasta are not actual sauces. This method is most suitable when there are no elements that can bind the ingredients together, and the starch released is used to create the density needed to flavour the pasta.

For example, with this technique, excellent results can be achieved by making “aglio e olio” pasta (with garlic, olive oil and dried red chili flakes), or spaghetti with clams: the starch will make it easier to emulsify the fatty part and the water. Instead, it is not suitable for use with rich, already thickened condiments.

In addition, it is also an interesting cooking method for those who need to stick to a low-fat diet, as it can be made without adding any oil.

ROBERTO BASSI

Risotto-style pasta is a perfect example of how a pasta dish can offer intense and enveloping flavours. An ideal combination of taste, textures and wholesomeness
 

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