Cooking pasta is not as easy as you think!
You boil some water, throw in some pasta, drain it and add a little oil to keep it from sticking and voila! Buon appetito!
Here’s five common pasta mistakes you’ve probably been making.
- Adding oil to the cooking pot: EH? We have no clue as to where this idea came from originally, but people tend to add oil to the cooking water thinking it will stop the pasta from sticking together. What it actually does is making pasta too slick for any sauce to stay on it properly. If you have used enough water and remember to stir your pasta regularly while it cooks, it will not stick together. So – no need to add oil.
- Not adding salt to the water: They have made us think that salt is BAD for our health. It is, but it also depends how we consume it. Not adding it to the water when you make pasta is a mistake. Salt keeps it from becoming slimy. Add about a teaspoon of salt per each gallon of water. It may seem a lot, but this is how any good Italian chef cooks it, and it really does make a difference. Luckily, the pasta does not absorb salt in the same way that vegetables or potatoes do, so you will not be eating all the salt that you use in the cooking water.
- Not stirring the pasta once it is cooking: when pasta doesn’t stick together it all cooks consistently. So stir that pot otherwise you will have clumped together pasta pieces.
- Rinsing the pasta after cooking: if you rinse your pasta immediately after cooking, you may as well throw it in the bin straight away. Al dente pasta has just the right amount of starches on the surface to absorb the sauce you will serve with it, which is where pasta gets its entire flavour. If you rinse it, you are washing away all the good bits.
- Overcooking the pasta: Mamma mia! Soft, soggy, deformed pasta is big no no, especially in Italy. The key to perfect pasta is to keep testing it as you cook it. Once it is slightly firm to the bite – a state the Italians call “al dente” (firm but not crunchy) it’s ready. At the al dente stage, turn off the heat and drain the pasta in a colander. Get rid of all excess water, and throw it in the pan where you have been preparing the sauce. Mix it together and serve immediately.
Pasta cooked to perfection and will taste delicious with anything you throw on top of it.