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KEY:  GOOD ★★★  FAIR ★★  POOR ★

Pasta is a foundation ingredient. But it isn’t complicated, so don’t get distracted with fancy tools and gadgets. Get started on pasta cookery with a good large stockpot, a well-designed colander, and a pasta fork.

Cuisinart Stainless 12-Quart Stockpot

Best Buy - Recommended
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine February 2007 In pretesting, we determined that a 12-quart stockpot is the most useful and versatile option for the average home kitchen. We tested stockpots by cooking 2 pound batches of pasta and corn and double batches of beef chili. Stockpot shape, weight, and grip were particularly influential in our ratings.
WEIGHT 4.35lbs MATERIAL Stainless Steel with Aluminum Core

RSVP Precision Pierced 5-Quart Colander

Winner - Highly Recommended
DESIGN ★★★
CLEANUP ★★★
PERFORMANCE ★★★
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine March 2014 We compared colander performance while draining 1 pound of angel hair, 1 pound of orzo, and 2 cups of salted diced tomatoes. We noted perforation coverage, stability, and elevation from the sink floor (to prevent backwash). After testing, we compared ease of cleanup both when hand washing and in the dishwasher.
HOLE SIZE 2.28mm DISHWASHER SAFE? Yes MATERIAL Stainless Steel

OXO Nylon Spaghetti Server

Winner - Highly Recommended
EASE OF USE ★★★
PERFORMANCE ★★★
Published in Cook's Illustrated Magazine March 2012 We tested pasta forks against each other and against our favorite tongs while preparing and serving slippery spaghetti; delicate, clump­-prone angel hair; and short penne. Each pasta fork was evaluated for stirring and separating, snagging a piece to test for doneness, and tossing the pasta with sauce.
WEIGHT 2.5oz DISHWASHER SAFE? Yes

Pairing Pasta Shapes and Sauces

There’s only one basic rule to follow: Thick, chunky sauces go with short pastas, and thin, smooth, or light sauces go with strand pastas.

Short Pastas

Short tubular or molded pasta shapes do an excellent job of trapping and holding on to chunky sauces. Sauces with very large chunks are best with rigatoni or other large tubes. Sauces with small chunks pair better with fusilli or penne.

Strand Pastas

Long strands are best with smooth sauces or sauces with very small chunks. In general, wider noodles, such as pappardelle and fettuccine, can support slightly chunkier sauces.

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