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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. How many types of pasta are there?
  2. What is the difference between regular noodles and egg noodles?
  3. How to cook pasta: should you add salt and oil to the water? Should you rinse the noodles?
  4. How to cook rice pasta

Pasta is used in cuisines around the world, from Italian spaghetti to pad Thai to American mac and cheese. There are over 600 pasta shapes produced worldwide.1

Pasta is typically made from durum wheat flour and water, though it can also be made from rice flour, corn flour, quinoa flour, etc. Eggs may also be used instead of water to create egg pastas; traditionally, fettuccine, tagliatelle, and pappardelle are made with egg.2

The best method for cooking pasta is pretty controversial, but most sources seem to reach a consensus for most pasta types. First of all, you really should salt the water you boil the pasta in, and salt it well. Second, do not add oil to the water to keep the noodles from sticking together. The salty water truly improves the pasta's flavor, but adding oil does not actually prevent the noodles from sticking together and some believe it can prevent the sauce from sticking to the noodles properly. Finally, do not rinse your noodles because doing so rinses off the starch that makes the sauce stick to the noodles. Rinsing is only appropriate for pasta salads.3 So all you need to do is bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt, add the pasta, give it a stir, boil for the time specified on the package, tasting a noodle periodically so you can be sure to drain once the pasta is al dente (still a little firm). The noodles will cook a bit more after they have been drained.

You can easily replace regular noodles with whole wheat noodles to add a little extra fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals to this dish. Just don't make the mistake of assuming that because the pasta is whole wheat, you can eat as much as you want. The calories and the effect on your blood sugar is not so drastically different!4

Rice noodles are more delicate than wheat noodles. They do not need to be added to boiling water; instead, put the rice noodles in a bowl and add boiling water until they are covered, stirring and taste-testing every couple minutes until they are tender. Then drain. Cellophane or glass noodles are made from mung bean starch and can be prepared the same way to be used in salads, stir fries, and soups. They can also be deep fried (without soaking) to use as a garnish.5

Nutrition DNA

The nutrition DNA of pasta. For example, you can see that 100g pasta covers 91% of your daily need of Selenium and 46% of the recommended Manganese intake. Hover over the bars to see which nutrient is covered.


  1. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation
  2. Italian Food
  3. Fine Cooking - Cooking Pasta Properly
  4. Quick and Dirty Tips
  5. Fine Cooking - Cellophane Noodles


  1. There are over 600 types of pasta.
  2. Regular noodles are made from wheat flour and water. Egg noodles are made from wheat flour and egg.
  3. Cooking pasta: salt the water, do not add oil, add the pasta to the boiling water, drain the pasta when still a little firm, do not rinse the noodles unless making pasta salad
  4. Cooking rice pasta: put the noodles in a bowl and add boiling water until covered, stir and taste test every few minutes until tender. Drain.
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