How to cook perfect pasta and what to avoid.
Preparing a pasta dish -a lazy or elaborate one- is no matter of sheer luck, take my word for it…
Here’s a series of advice you should follow to achieve optimal pleasure in your pasta bite:
Italians say pasta should be cooked “al dente”, that is you should be able to bite it.
They are absolutely right, of course: rule number one is “don’t overcook pasta“. The manufacturer deserves some of our trust: the cooking time is written on the package, so it’s best to follow the cooking instructions – although sometimes tasting the pasta one minute before the boiling time is completed is probably a good idea.
Remember to put the pasta in water that has already started to boil – or else you can’t count the minutes correctly.
In some cases the pasta will be thrown into a hot sauce. When hot pasta stays in boiling sauce, it keeps absorbing some of the liquids, so in theory it keeps boiling for a little while. Then, it’s good to take that time into account almost as additional boiling for the pasta.
The water where pasta boils should be salted, unless stated. In fact, 1-2 teaspoons would probably be enough, although it’s quite difficult to accidentaly cook very salty pasta by putting too much salt in the boiling, so this is not a stressful detail…
Do not rinse the pasta
Let’s be honest: rinsing your hot pasta with cold water is
nearly a crime a very big mistake.
Not only do you wash off the starch that makes the sauce stick on the pasta, but you are certain to end up serving cold and somehow tasteless pasta with hot sauce. Draining in a colander is the only thing that should happen in the kitchen sink. That’s why this piece of advice is combined with the next one…
Always mix the pasta with the sauce you’ve prepared
Some might cook a sauce for twice as much pasta, so that they can put in the fridge and re-heat it tomorrow.
That’s perfectly ok, as long as today’s pasta doesn’t stay alone in a pot. The pasta should be thrown in the sauce or sauce should be poured on the pasta. Keeping them apart until you serve them is a real shame: a big part of the flavor will be gone by then…
Don’t let the pasta wait
No matter how lazy your recipe is or how tired you are, there is something you should always keep in mind: the very moment your pasta is drained, your sauce should be ready. Never let your pasta get cold in the colander.
This why we should know the cooking time of our sauce beforehand. If it takes longer for the sauce to get ready, boiling the pasta comes second.