Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Cooking Tip of the Week (July 23, 2015)

Posted by William Abruzzo on July 24, 2015 at 12:25 AM

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The Dos and Don’ts of Cooking Pasta

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        There are a few simple ways to make sure that your pasta is cooked to perfection. First, always cook your pasta in a large pot with plenty of lightly salted water. If there is not enough water in the pot, as the pasta cooks, the water will become soupy from the pasta starches and it will not cook properly. Bring the water up to a boil before you add the pasta and be sure to stir it well so that the pasta does not stick together or to the bottom of the pot. Once the pasta has been added, continue cooking at a medium boil. There needs to be ample bubbling in the water to keep the pasta moving, but not so much that it will cause the water to froth.

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        The only thing you should add to the pasta cooking water is salt. It will prevent the pasta from tasting flat. Add as much salt as you like to suit your taste. However, the general rule is that pasta cooking water should be lightly salted so that it does not overpower the “condimento” or sauce that you have chosen to dress the pasta. While some cooks suggest adding a drizzle of olive oil to the water to prevent the pasta from sticking, I disagree. Assuming this method is valid, then in theory it should also serve to prevent the “condimento” from sticking to pasta. It only makes sense that if the pasta is coated with a film of oil, then the sauce will not cling to it. Therefore, the better method is simply to stir the pasta frequently.

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        Pasta should be served “al dente” or firm. The best way to tell when the pasta is ready is by tasting it. This is the only way to know for sure whether it is to your liking. Forget about throwing it against the wall to see if it sticks or any other crazy method that you may have heard about. When the pasta is ready, you can use a spider or tongs to transfer it from the pot to a deep frying pan that contains your “condimento”. If you wish, pull the pasta out of the water a minute early and let it finish cooking in the “condimento”. The other option is to strain the pasta in a colander, transfer it to a serving platter and then immediately dress it with the “condimento”. Finally, never rinse cooked pasta under running water. This will remove the natural starches and prevent your “condimento” from clinging to the pasta.   Following these few tips will ensure that your pasta turns out perfect every time. Enjoy!

Categories: Cooking Tips

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1 Comment

Reply mariabella
10:54 PM on July 26, 2015 
Interesting!! All your tips are so helpful, thanks. . . . . .