I recently borrowed an Italian cookbook from the library and learned several helpful tips for making the perfect pot of pasta. You may already be familiar with some of these techniques, but hopefully you can learn a thing or two and create your best spaghetti or primavera yet!
1. Use a large pot so that the pasta has plenty of room to move as it cooks. Italians say that pasta must "swim like a fish in the ocean."
2. Start with cold water, not hot. Hot water passes through different pipes and can pick up more impurities along the way.
3. Never put oil in the water. It prevents the pasta from releasing its starch and absorbing the sauce.
4. Add the salt and pasta only after the water is rapidly boiling. Otherwise the salt will sink to the bottom and the pasta will turn gummy.
5. Stir the pasta occasionally as it cooks so as to prevent sticking.
6. Never rinse pasta. The starch helps sauces to thicken and adhere to the noodles.
And a few other fun suggestions and bits of information:
- Try cooking pasta in white wine, or in a red wine to add a rich tint.
- Passively cook your pasta - place it in boiling water for two minutes and then turn off the heat and let it finish cooking.
- There is not a "right" noodle shape for particular sauces, but thick sauces usually go best with short pasta, and thin & light sauces are best paired with long, thin noodles.
Do you have any clever tricks for achieving the perfect pasta? If so, I'd love to hear them...my love for pasta isn't going away anytime soon!
p.s. Michael and I both like our pasta cooked al dente, which is all the better because it means we get to eat it sooner : )
Information for this post came from the book Pasta Modern by Francine Segan.