14 Tips for cooking Pasta.
For some home cooks, cooking pasta well can be a hit or miss. Some days mushy, some days all stuck together and other days dry, sometimes the dish tastes like the ingredients didn’t quite get inside the pasta. These 14 tips for cooking pasta will help solve most of the cooking problems encountered when making pasta dishes.
Typically, pasta is a noodle made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour, mixed with water or eggs and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked by boiling or baking. It is an italian staple food and is said to have originated from China, though they used rice flour. There are hundreds of varieties of pasta both fresh and dried, most common being spaghetti and macaroni.
You will love the Nigerian jollof spaghetti and Vegetable Macaroni.
To cook pasta is simple just follow these general guidelines:
- Use a comparatively large pot that will contain the water used when boiling your pasta.
- Use a lot of water when cooking pasta. The pasta should be swimming in the water or else it will get mushy and sticky. As a guide, use about 4 litres of water (16 cups) to 450 gram (4 cups) of pasta. This large amount of water will keep pasta moving and prevent sticking.
- Do not add oil to the cooking water, it will make the strands slippery and prevent the sauce from adhering effectively on the pasta. Unless you are using an oil based sauce for your pasta, then it does not really matter.
- Once the water boils, add plenty of salt to it. This is the only way to infuse flavour into the pasta. At least, one tablespoon of salt to 4 litres of water.
- Make sure the water comes to a roaring boil before you add your pasta. This helps with the texture of the cooked pasta and also, keeps the pasta moving so it will not stick together.
- Stir pasta (preferably with a spaghetti spoon, tong or fork if cooking long pasta) to help separate the strands and clumps and for an even cooking. Stir often in the first 3-4 minutes of cooking making sure the pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Add pasta to the boiling water, cover the pot and bring back to a boil, then take off the lid and leave the pot open till the pasta is cooked.
- Take off the pot cover as soon as the water starts boiling again, to prevent boiling over. The addition of oil can prevent boiling over but note number 3, alternatively place a wooden spoon in the pot of boiling pasta, this helps too.
- Pasta is best cooked al dente, that is still having some bite to it. Start checking earlier than the cooking instruction says, and the best way to check is by biting into a piece of pasta.
- Do not rinse your pasta after draining it of its cooking water. This will wash off the precious coating of starch on the pasta which acts as a glue to help the sauce stick to it.
- Do rinse your pasta if you are using it to prepare a cold dish like a pasta salad. Rinse and drizzle a little oil on it then mix to avoid sticking together.
- Retain a little of the cooking water to add to the pasta sauce, it acts as a thickener and a glue.
- Do not add salt to the pasta sauce until you have mixed it with the pasta and tasted it to avoid over salting. Always remember that you have already added salt to the pasta water and part of the pasta water was added to the sauce.
- It is best to add the pasta immediately it is cooked into the sauce, to avoid clumping.
Happy pasta cooking. If these tips have been of help, kindly tell us and if you have any tips on pasta cooking to share with us, please do in the comments. Thanks
- Spaghetti and Meatballs in Tomato Sauce - The Pretend Chef - […] For tips on How to cook the perfect spaghetti, click to view my Post. […]
- Pasta Salad - The Pretend Chef - […] Some of the above actually go contrary to some points in 14 tips for cooking pasta. […]
- Macaroni with vegetables - The Pretend Chef - […] A good pasta dish starts with well cooked pasta, read 14 tips for cooking pasta. […]