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A pasta measure is a tool which is used to measure out servings of dry pasta. Since many cooks struggle with the amount of pasta to use, a pasta measure can be a very useful tool, taking the guesswork out of serving pasta and ensuring that there will be enough for everyone without creating an excess. Some kitchen supply stores carry pasta measures, while some pasta producers kindly print them on their boxes for the convenience of their customers.
There are a number of different ways to measure out a serving of pasta. The most reliable serving technique is weighing. Weighing can be used to measure out any kind of pasta, from tubular pasta shapes to strand pasta, and it is very precise. You can use the weight of the box divided by the number of servings the box contains as a starting point when weighing pasta.
For cooks who lack a scale, measuring out pasta can be a bit more tricky. In the case of pasta shapes, many cooks use a volume measurement, using cup measures to figure out how much pasta they should use. Strand pastas can also be measured by volume, and thanks to their shape, this is relatively easy. All that cooks need to do is grab a fistful of pasta and measure the diameter to get a serving measurement.
A pasta measure is designed to be used with strand pasta in one of two ways. In one design, the pasta is forced through holes in the pasta measure; typically several holes are included, allowing cooks to measure one to four servings of pasta by filling the holes. In another design, the pasta is held up against a printed guide; if the pasta covers a circle on the guide, it's a serving, or many, depending on the size of the circle.
When you use a pasta measure, you may be surprised by the size of the servings it yields, depending on where you learned to cook. In the United States, portions are often unusually large, so the servings doled out by a pasta measure might seem paltry, when in fact they are perfectly ordinary when compared to the contents of European plates. By sticking to recommended serving sizes, people can eat a more balanced, healthy diet without an excess of calories, and they may also find themselves enjoying their pasta sauces more, since they will not be overwhelmed by pasta.
I bought a bag of pasta that had a circular design on it so that you could hold the pasta up to it and measure out the correct serving. Trouble is, and same with most pasta measures, you don't necessarily know what a serving is. You really have to just make different amounts to see how much you're going to end up with- until you get the hang of it, it's always a surprise! Good thing pasta is a great leftover food.
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