6 Pasta Cooking Tips
Ever wondered what kind of a place the world would be without pasta? It would be a sad place indeed. It may have originated in Italy but has now become the comfort food for so many of us around the world, more so here in America. Walk down the lane and you will find every other house in the neighborhood smelling of some pasta dish or the other. Despite the popularity not all of us are perfect pasta chefs however. More often than not, we slave over the stove for hours only to find sticky and soggy pasta come out of all our endeavors.
Even the best of cooks may have trouble when it comes to pasta though it makes for one of the easiest, tastiest and fastest dishes to make. Well, easy as it sounds pasta cooking involves certain tricks that not all of us are really familiar with. While it’s not rocket science, it does involve some basic theories that one needs to follow to get the perfect pasta cooked. Check out these few pasta cooking tips to make your future pasta experiments more successful.
Tip #1 – Make sure there is enough water
Ask any Italian chef and they will tell you that the specific amount of water you put in is very important, too little or too much could ruin the consistency of the pasta. So what is the right amount? Typically, for each pound of pasta you need to use about 6 quarts of water. When the water comes to a boil add about 3 tablespoons of kosher salt to it. Give it between 3-5 minutes depending on what kind of pasta you are using and drain it. Whole wheat will take longer than regular pasta. Don’t let it boil for long because that will make the pasta too soft. Take it off the stove when it is three quarter done.
Tip #2 – Olive oil
Most of us think of olive oil as just an oil to use but if you want your pasta to taste authentic and delicious then you will need a well-crafted and extra virgin olive oil. Knowing your olive oil is an art, quite like knowing your wine. Here too you will have to consider the nuances and clarity of the oil, its weight and density as well as the region it comes from. All these will have a subtle impact on your pasta dish and its taste. One important thing to remember is that you must never overheat the olive oil or let it smoke. It completely ruins its flavor.
Tip #3 – Sauce
There are different pasta dishes to love and savor, each coming with its unique sauce that gives it that unique flavor and taste. But no matter what kind of sauce you opt for here are some ground rules to remember. You must never let the sauce reach its boiling point before you have added the pasta. Make the sauce, put the cooked paste and stir well so that the pasta is well coated with the sauce. Once it makes a homogenous mix then let it come to a boil. If you are using butter sauce, use old butter as it makes for a better emulsion.
Tip #4 – Cheese
There can hardly be a perfect pasta without cheese but there are rules to follow here too. The most important mistake that we all do is to add the cheese straightaway. You must remove the pan from heat before adding the cheese so that it can be well-integrated into the pasta and sauce without forming lumps. This is true even for the cheese sauce. Some of us like extra cheese on our pasta, this can be added after you have plated it as well.
Tip #5 – Texture
Contrary to popular belief, not everything about a pasta dish is homogenous. When you need to be authentic you need to give it more depth and texture. This can be gotten by adding the fresh herbs and raw tomatoes after you have tossed the pasta in the sauce. Most of us do it before this step which is why everything melts into the sauce. This way you will get that fresh look and contrast in the dish. To finish off, add a slight coat of olive oil after it boils.
Tip #6 – Plating
A pasta is meant to be eaten fresh so if you want to your dish to look fresh and appetizing time it well so that you can serve it hot. While it may not always be possible, you can always keep the ingredients ready and the dish prepped before cooking. The actual cooking time is not much and once you get the hang of it you can serve the perfect pasta dish for your guests easily.
Written by Bambi Majumdar