Dry Pasta vs. Fresh Pasta: What's the Difference?

In these days of "fresh is better," wouldn't it seem like fresh pasta would be preferable to dried pasta? After all, fresh pasta is often locally-made and uses, well, fresh ingredients, while dried pasta is shipped over long distances and has been sitting on shelves for an unknown period of time.

But not so--like red and white wine, like soft and hard cheeses, like the West Coast and the East Coast, neither kind of pasta is superior to the other. They're just different!

Fresh pasta is made from a simple dough of eggs and flour, usually all-purpose flour or "00" high-gluten flour. The dough is kneaded like bread dough and then pressed through rollers until it's as thin as desired. Then it's cut into long noodles or formed and stuffed into tortellini and ravioli.

Fresh pasta is best served with delicate sauces where the texture of the pasta can take front stage. Fettuccine Alfredo is a whole new experience with fresh pasta, no question!

Dry pasta is made from finely ground semolina flour and water (no egg, usually) that is mixed into a paste, pushed through molds, and cut into the multitude of pasta shapes we know and love. (Just like those old Playdough Fun Factories!) Unlike fresh pasta, this pasta is dried at a low temperature for several days until all the moisture has evaporated, allowing it to be stored almost indefinitely.

Dry pasta is best suited for hearty dishes like ragu sauces, soups, and casseroles since it's a firm structure will hold up better with other ingredients.

Just like any other product on the market, you can find high-end forms of both pastas, as well as cheaper supermarket versions. But fresh or dry, long noodles or intricately shapes, it all comes down to personal taste.

What's your favorite pasta?

(Image Credit: Faith Hopler and Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)