When you walk down the pasta aisle at the grocery store you see various options with a large range of prices. They all seem the same so you grab the same brand you’ve been buying for years and continue on shopping without much thought to it. Pasta only has a few ingredients so does it really make a difference which you buy? That is what I thought, but I was very wrong.
Pasta is water and flour, but even with only two ingredients the end product can be vastly different. The quality of ingredients and the process of making the pasta account for the differences. Artisan pasta takes days from start to finish and is hand packed by workers to ensure the only the best is shipped to customers. Vicidomini starts with durum wheat semolina and mountain spring water; the only ingredients that will be used in the process. No alterations are made to the the semolina that comes from southern Italy before being mixed in with the mountain spring water.
The mixture is then put through bronze dyes that produce the various shapes. The bronze dyes are an important differentiating factor in the process. The other option is to use Teflon dyes, which are cheaper and faster. The bronze dyes create a rough pasta that is perfect for absorbing sauce, whereas Teflon produces a smooth surface that sauce slides right off of. Just by looking at the pasta you can usually tell which has been used. The bronze dyes produces a pasta that is white whereas the Teflon is more yellow in color. Teflon is cheaper and faster so companies that want to sell a product for $2 it makes sense, but once you taste the difference it is hard to go back.
After going through the dyes the short shapes are placed on drying racks and transferred to a room to dry by natural air. The longer shapes are placed on stainless steel rods to dry. By drying the pasta with natural air and no added heat, the product does not lose any of its nutrients or the nutty flavor from the durum. The short shapes take two to three days and the longer shapes can take up to five days.
When cooking the pasta it is important not to overcook it so that it does not become gummy. Once it is done drain the water and put it directly into the sauce. It is important not to over sauce the dish or you will miss out on the flavor
from the pasta itself. The sauce is like a dressing to a salad, you wouldn’t want puddles of dressing on your lettuce and in the same way you don’t want puddles of sauce.
When you first taste the pasta it immediately hits you that this is not the generic product you are accustomed to. It has a distinct flavor preserved by taking the time to slowly dry it and by the use of bronze dyes. The durum semolina leaves the pasta with a taste that makes it clear why recipes don’t call for long lists of ingredients, because why would you want to hide such a good flavor? Just making a simple tomato sauce is perfect, as the ridges created by the bronze dyes help to soak up the delicious flavor. Simply steaming asparagus and mixing in the pasta with it is a simple meal that takes under 45 minutes, but will be packed full of flavor and nutrients.
The process can be seen in the video below that was taken at Vicidomini factory in Campania: