The Telltale Sign That Identifies Good Boxed Pasta, According To Lidia Bastianich - Exclusive

Dry, boxed pasta is easy enough. All you have to do is head to your local grocery store, pick up a good ol' box of Barilla, and boil it at home (with lots of salt in the water, of course!). Plus, according to the book "Compendium of the Microbiological Spoilage of Foods and Beverages," unopened dried pasta carries a shelf life of two years, so it's the perfect pantry stuffer (via Epicurious). But when pasta is boxed, how are you able to tell if you are purchasing quality goods? In Tasting Table's exclusive interview with culinary mogul Lidia Bastianich, we found out the answer for you.

"What's important about it is that it is made from durum wheat 100%," the Italian American chef explained. Durum wheat is commonly ground into semolina, which is a flour often found in pasta. The wheat is chock-full of protein and gluten, which Bastianich said is "the backbone that pasta needs to be cooked," as the key recipe is "100% semolina flour and water." Now that we know what ingredients to look out for in highly acquired pasta, there are a few telltale signs that indicate the carb isn't good.

Don't buy floury pasta

Lidia Bastianich told Tasting Table, "When you're buying pasta, if you can see it, make sure it's not floury. If it's floury, it's not shiny; it's opaque." The new host of the PBS special "Lidia Celebrates America: Flavors That Define Us" continued that a bad indicator in boxed pasta is the "roughness" of the grain because if there is "excess flour ... that means that it's a bit old [and it's] beginning to disintegrate." 

A second telltale sign not to grab the pasta on shelves is if it's cracked. Bastianich added that if the boxed pasta is cracked, then it may be beginning to age. Boxed pasta, especially when unopened, rarely goes bad, but do take note of the indicators for an optimal Italian spaghetti dinner night! 

If the dried pasta has been cooked and placed in the fridge for too long, look out for any sort of discoloration, mold, or a slimy texture before consuming it.

"Lidia Celebrates America: Flavors That Define Us" is available for streaming on PBS' website and the PBS app.