Why Nancy Silverton Never Buys Store-Bought Fresh Pasta

Award-winning American chef Nany Silverton knows a thing or two about pasta and bread. As the founder of the world-renowned La Brea Bakery and current co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, she knows how to make magic happen with flour and water. At first glance, you would think a fabulous chef like Silverton would always only suggest buying fresh pasta and that the boxed stuff is no good. Isn't fresh inherently better? 

Dried, boxed pasta piled high on grocery store shelves is sometimes considered inferior to freshly made pasta. While it can seem like you're just comparing apples to apples here, it really is more like apples to oranges! Dried and fresh pasta are two different things that each serve their purpose. This is a hot topic, that famous chefs like Bobby Flay love to explore on his podcast. It seems that everyone has an opinion on pasta and how to best prepare it.  

An interviewer for the Los Angeles Times contacted multiple chefs asking what they prepared at home, fresh or dried pasta? Silverton remarked, "Of course, dry pasta is better! People need to be patient!" This statement most likely surprised people who were under the impression that fresh is best. Who knew? But then, why serve fresh pasta in a restaurant if dried is better? Well, fresh pasta cooks significantly faster, usually in just two to four minutes. On the other hand, dry pasta can be anywhere from eight to 15 minutes, depending on the shape and amount.

Fresh isn't always best

This time difference is a significant reason why restaurant chefs prefer fresh pasta any day of the week because it cooks in no time. Timing is everything during a 6 o'clock dinner rush!

Dried pasta has a notably great texture that's toothsome and holds up in different sauces very well. This texture is known as "al dente" that perfectly chewy bite of pasta that isn't too soft or too crunchy. It sometimes has slight nuttiness based on the dried wheat content that also acts as an excellent base for pasta sauce. Fresh pasta does not have that al dente nature, it is meant to be a softer and silky texture.

A myriad of things can go wrong when attempting to make fresh pasta. Unless you are looking to experiment in the kitchen and push yourself as a home cook, boxed pasta is more than okay; it's great! The worst thing you can do is buy store-made fresh pasta because it's really not that fresh, and it won't give you the results you're looking for. Store-made fresh pasta doesn't have the fabulous texture and shelf-life of dried pasta, nor does it have the tenderness and lightness of homemade pasta. When in doubt, pick up a box of dried, delicious box pasta. It's never a bad thing to have in the pantry whether you're a home cook or a renowned chef. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.