We found a new pasta shape while touring Arthur Avenue last week. That shouldn’t be a big surprise since Arthur Avenue is one of the “Little Italy” locations in the northeast. In the span of about 3 or 4 blocks that the three of us wandered over two hours, we found multiple Italian specialty shops. In one shop they even sold gigantic, imported tubs of Nutella, our very favorite chocolate spread. Beats peanut butter without question as a choice for slathering over toast on a cold winter’s evening.
One long time shop called Teitel Brothers, on Arthur Avenue since 1915, had a large selection of imported pastas. Yes, you might be wondering where the vowels are at the end of their name if it’s an Italian specialty store, but the owner’s nationality doesn’t count nearly as much as the products they have been selling for many years. After debating the possibilities, we decided to pick up a pound of the Egg Garganelli pasta, a shape I’ve never seen anywhere else. The best way to describe this shape is skinny rectangles that have been folded into a tube shape. This is important to understand. Because unlike most tube pasta which is continuous all around, this pasta has the place in the middle where the sides overlap.
When I cooked the pasta on Sunday for our traditional Sunday dinner with red sauce, I followed the time suggested on the package. When the timer rang, I looked in the pot and could see that the pointy edges were looking more than soft, almost kind of floppy, so I quickly dumped it into the colander.
And that was my mistake. I should have done what I normally do while cooking pasta and tasted a piece to see if it was cooked appropriately. I should never have trusted my eyes. Because this shape had a very unusual characteristic. While the edges were soft and floppy, the overlaid pieces in the middle were almost hard and crunchy. This shape doesn’t cook evenly, and I heard about it at the table. My mistake.
Therefore, the next time you choose a pasta shape, not only should you think about how well it will or will not hold your intended sauce; not only should you think about how cute they will look on the plate; not only should you think about whether it’s egg or water pasta; you should think about how evenly it will cook. Lesson learned.