Admit it. Cooking pasta is quite a challenge. The formula may be simple, but finding the perfect blend of water, pasta noodles, and cooking time is tricky. After all, too chewy or too mushy noodles could ruin your sauce and the taste – and you surely don’t want to happen. It may take awhile – and a lot of failed pasta attempts, but, let me share my secrets with you on how to make pasta.
11 Tips on How to Make Pasta Correctly
Always Use a Large Pot
Size matters, including pots and pans. In cooking pasta, make sure that you use a large pot. This is because pasta noodles tend to expand while cooking, which also means it needs enough room to move. Otherwise, the pasta noodles will turn out sticky and mushy.
When it comes to pots, eight- or 12-quart pot is your best weapon of choice when cooking pasta.
Fill the Pot with (Lots of) Water
You might be tempted to use less water on your pasta so it will boil quickly. Apparently, this is one of the biggest mistakes committed by many when cooking pasta.
Pasta noodles need lots of water as much as it needs space to keep them submerged. To measure how much water you need, remember that the pasta must be completely covered with water then add 1.5 inches. Otherwise, your noodles will be mushy and could ruin the dish.
This leads you to the next tip on how to make pasta properly.
Keep the Water Boiling before Adding them In
Sorry friends, but the key to perfect pasta is to keep the water boiling first before placing the noodles. This is because the boiling temperature keeps the noodles from getting mushy. There is also a possibility of raw or uncooked portions if you didn’t wait for a few minutes.
Patience is a virtue.
Leave the Pasta As Is
You might be tempted to break the pasta noodles to speed up the cooking time and make the noodles easier to eat. Contrary to popular belief, altering the pasta won’t speed the cooking time. Consequently, the diameter and thickness of the pasta determines the cook time, so there is no use of breaking them.
Leave the pasta as is, unless you don’t have a deep pot and you need to submerge the noodles.
Be Generous with Salt
Do you want to make your pasta more flavorful? All you need is a spoonful of salt and you are good to go.
Salt gives your pasta flavor extra boost. At the same time, it helps absorb the liquid and swells. All you need is one to two tablespoons of sea salt poured on boiling water and you get to enjoy a perfect pasta.
Don’t worry. It won’t make the pasta salty, which leads you to this next tip.
Say Goodbye to Oil
Most people will tell you to put oil on the pot when cooking pasta. I do that too, before. After all, this could prevent the pot from boiling over and avoid the pasta from sticking.
The debate is still ongoing, but majority of people will say never put oil when cooking pasta.
What’s the reason behind this?
Oil is made up of hydrophobic molecules and is less dense than water, thereby creating a layer on top of it. Once you drain the pasta, it will pass and pour through on the oily layer, leaving the pasta oilier.
Unless you are planning to cook an oil-based pasta, it is best to skip this step.
Just Keep Stirring
All of the pasta techniques you will learn from this post will help you ensure perfect pasta. Apparently, these techniques will fail you if you forget this trick: stirring.
Occasional stirring prevents your pasta from clumping or sticking. Therefore, make sure you stir during the first two minutes of cooking. This time is crucial since it is when the pasta is coated with sticky and glue-like starch. Otherwise, pasta noodles will literally stay and cook together – and you don’t want that to happen.
The Two-Minute Rule
Do you want to know how long or quick you should cook the pasta? Check the label.
Still, this doesn’t mean you should wait for 10 minutes to be over just because the label says so. It is best to check the pasta at least two minutes before it is ready. Get a single strand and taste it. It should be chewy and springy, although some may prefer a bit of rawness in the noodles.
Whatever your choice is, it is important to check it to avoid getting overcooked pasta.
Save a Cup of Pasta Water – You’ll Need it Later
Here is another secret on how to make pasta perfectly: always save a cup of pasta water.
Pasta water is not only a great addition to the flavor of the sauce but also helps glue the sauce into the pasta. This could also be a great way to thicken the sauce and make the sauce less likely to clump at the bottom of the bowl.
Make sure you read the next tip, which is a common mistake made by many.
Rinse is Out of the Question
I used to think that the best way to cool the pasta is to rinse it with running water. Apparently, that is wrong.
Rinsing the pasta cools it and makes it less likely to absorb the sauce. This could also wash away the surface starch on the noodles, an essential component that could contribute to the flavor of the sauce.
This will definitely change your game in the pasta-cooking world.
Stir the Pasta Noodles As Soon as Possible
Now that you drained the noodles and adjusted the sauce, make sure you stir the pasta as soon as you can. This will make it easier for the pasta to absorb the sauce, making it more flavorful.
Remember these 11 tips and you will surely say goodbye to overcooked or under-cooked pasta. With these in mind, do you have anything more to add? Let me know!