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Pappardelle pasta is an Italian flat pasta cut into a broad ribbon shape. In width, the pasta is between tagliatelle and lasagna. This pasta is traditionally served with very rich, heavy sauces, especially sauces which include game such as wild boar, and it is particularly popular in the winter, when it can make the basis of a hearty, warming meal. This pasta's name comes from the Italian pappare, a verb which means “to gobble up.”
Some markets carry pappardelle pasta, as do restaurants which offer a range of Italian pastas on their menus. It is also possible to make this pasta at home, with the assistance of a pasta machine or by hand. Typically, pappardelle is made with an egg-based dough, making the pasta richer and fluffier, and the edges of the ribbons of pasta may be fluted or left straight, depending on the taste of the cook.
Fresh pappardelle pasta can be made with a range of flours, but dried pappardelle is usually made with durum wheat, an especially hard variety of wheat. Durum wheat is ideal for pasta because it helps the pasta hold its shape, and it will stay firm even if it becomes slightly overcooked. Softer wheats, on the other hand, tend to result in pasta which falls apart if it is not monitored closely by the cook, a result which is generally not desired.
This pasta is designed to be served on a plate or in a broad bowl. The wide ribbons are very absorbent and sturdy, making it ideal for thick sauces, and some people also serve pappardelle pasta under stews and pot roast, using the pasta as a starch to sop up the sauce. Pappardelle is generally not suitable for baked dishes, since it is too large to work in a noodle casserole, and too narrow to work in a lasagna.
Dried pappardelle pasta is usually available in the form of folded nests of pasta when it is made with eggs, and as flat ribbons when it is made with durum wheat alone. Dried egg pastas can simply be dropped into boiling water and stirred briefly until they come apart, indicating that the pasta is almost done. Durum pastas take longer to cook, usually 13-15 minutes, thanks to the large size of the pasta. In both cases, after draining, the pasta can be run under cold water or briefly tossed with oil to prevent the ribbons from sticking to each other.