Pasta is the one dish a lot of people claim
to be able to cook. It is true, pasta is relatively simple to prepare. After all, anyone
can boil water, right? Even so, there are a few simple tricks to making this most
pedestrian of meals gourmet dishes.
Don't scrimp on the boiling water.
Pasta likes to have "breathing space", with plenty of room to move around. If
possible, use a very large pot with about 6 quarts of water for every 450 gms. pasta.
Add oil. It is necessary to add oil to
the boiling water and stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
Add salt to the boiling water, about
1-2 tablespoons to 6-quarts of water. This will add flavor and help the pasta absorb the
Never break spaghetti in half. Add
pasta slowly to boiling water, gradually pushing the long strands as they soften.
Don't combine two types of pasta in the
same pot of boiling water. One type may cook faster than the other.
Never, never overcook pasta! Pasta must
be cooked "al dente", literally means "to the tooth". This is used to
describe ideal degree of doneness for cooked pasta - tender, but still firm to the bite.
Do not rely on the clock to evaluate
doneness. Use those teeth!
Do not rinse pasta unless you're using it
for a cold salad.
A couple of cups saved from the cooking
water can be added to the sauce. Starch in the water binds the sauce, helping it to
adhere to the pasta.
To reheat pasta, pour boiling water
over cold pasta and drain. Never re-boil.
The variations of pasta can be contained
within just a few basic forms:
Long, round pasta: spaghetti,
macaroni, vermicelli, capellini
Long, flat pasta: lasagna,
- Short, shaped pasta: penne, conchigliette (shells),
- Stuffed pasta: ravioli, tortellini, canneloni