How to cook pasta correctly

No, you don't put oil in the pasta water. Yes, you will salt the water like the ocean.

By: Times Foodie

Updated Jul 8, 2022 | 22:05 IST


Let us name all the ways in which pasta is awesome: it's tasty, versatile, cheap and *drumroll* delicious! Pasta is also the star of many dishes that we love like spaghetti carbonara, fettuccini alfredo, cacio e pepe, pasta primavera and the very delectable macaroni and cheese.
While it takes both the sauce and the pasta to make the recipe perfect, often it's the pasta that ends up being mushy or undercooked. No matter how great your sauce, a badly cooked pasta will leave a bad taste in the mouth (pun intended).
Understanding pasta
Pasta is made of durum wheat dough and is usually associated with Italian cooking. There are two types – the dried ones or secca and the freshly made ones called fresca.
They are rolled out into various shapes like tubes, strips, sheets and spirals. Each has a different texture and is used for specific recipes. For example, spaghetti is preferred for seafood, creamy, oil-based or tomato sauces. Twisty shapes like fusilli and rotini are better suited to pesto sauce. Penne is best paired with vegetable sauces or ragu.
The primary preparation of pasta involves boiling it in water with some salt. It is then transferred into a sauce and cooked for a short while. The larger shell-shaped ones can be filled with savoury fillings and baked. Lasagna is typically layered with tomato and meat sauce, topped off with cheese and baked.
Steps for cooking pasta
1. Use a large pot for cooking the pasta since it requires a lot of water. You will need 4-5 litres of water for every 500-gram pack of pasta.
3. Let the water come to a rolling boil.
4. Once the water boils, salt the water as liberally as you can. This is an important step. For every 500 grams of pasta, add 1.5 tablespoons of salt.
5. Add the pasta and quickly close the mouth of the pot with a lid. This will prevent the water temperature from dropping.
6. Keep stirring to prevent the pasta from clumping together.
7. Remove the pasta two minutes before it is fully cooked. Check the pasta box to see the cooking time.
8. Take out a cupful of pasta water, which will be used later to thicken the pasta sauce.
9. Drain the pasta into a colander and add it to the sauce. Add the reserved pasta water and cook for a little while.
How to cook pasta
How to cook pasta
The secret of making excellent pasta lies in boiling it. The balanced texture of the cooked pasta is the base of a memorable dish. But it is very easy to over or undercook pasta, both of which are culinary sins.
Some prefer adding a little oil to the boiling water but it can prevent the sauce from coating the pasta nicely. To cook it al dente, read the package instructions carefully.
Depending on shapes and size the cooking time can change.
The perfect pasta should be tender in texture but firm to bite.
To get that, switch off your flame two minutes before the instructed time if you are transferring it to a hot pan full of sauce on the stove.
If you are serving it sauce-free you can boil it till the recommended time. Rinse the pasta well before serving or adding it to the sauce.
Fresh homemade pasta takes a little amount of time to cook. In this case, you have to be ready with a colander to drain the hot water instantly. Stuffed pasta like ravioli should be cooked very carefully so that the stuffing does not come out while boiling. No matter what you are cooking make sure you put some paste water away for your sauce. Now go ahead and create an unforgettable dinner.

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