For a lot of people, a pasta is the weeknight answer to a fast, comforting and delicious after work supper. You may be a spaghetti superstar, and if so, disregard this article, but what follows are some easy tips and tricks to make any pasta dinner just a little bit better.
Tip no 1
At the super market. You may want to spend the extra 50 cents to buy a better grade of pasta. Look for durum semolina flour as the main ingredient, and avoid anything suspiciously cheap, and anyways, dried noodles, even the very best dried noodles, are not likely to break the bank.
Tip no 2
Use the right kind of pasta for the right kind of sauce. A smooth sauce is perfect for a long noodle, and a chunky sauce is better for something with nooks and crannies, to catch all that sauce.
Tip no 3
The water. You need lots of water at the boil to cook pasta properly. If you try to get by with a too small pot, and not enough water, the water temperature will drop too much when you add your pasta, and by the time it again reaches a boil, you may be dealing with a sticky gloopy mass of noodles.
Tip no 4
Also the water. Salt the water well. Giving an absolute quantity of salt to add here is probably useless, because who really measures out the water when filling up a pasta pot from the tap? The water should taste like the sea, it's as easy as that.
Tip no 5
Again with the water. No oil may be permitted into the pasta water. I don’t know what kind of evil lunchroom-spaghetti-salad-eating pasta hating person created this rumor, but it has to stop! Oil will coat the pasta, and won’t allow the starches from the pasta to cling to, and absorb, the sauce. You don't need the oil, just make sure that you've used enough water, and that the water is boiling vigorously before adding the pasta. Give the noodles a good stir at the beginning, and another occasional stirring, and you will never have a pasta sticking together problem.
Tip no 6
Again again with the water. Don't throw away all the water when you drain your pasta. This salty starchy water is just what you need to get your pasta in sauce to the perfect consistency, and it's a shame to throw it down the drain. When you mix your pasta with the sauce, the starches on the pasta will start to suck up the sauce, and what can happen is that the pasta becomes far too dry by the time you get it to the table. Mix your pasta with the sauce, and add a bit of pasta water to the lot, so it looks just a little bit too loose, and by the time you serve it, it will be perfect.
Tip no 7
Don’t over cook, and don’t be fooled by that cooking time as printed on the package. Start tasting the pasta early, and take it off as soon as it's al dente.
Tip no 8
Don’t over sauce. The pasta should be the star of the show, and the sauce should be clinging nicely to it.
Tip no 9
Season the pasta after you have mixed it with the sauce, prior to serving. A last minute touch of salt and pepper can transport the merely good to the great; don’t forget to have a little taste.
Tip no 10
The pasta won’t wait. Serve this immediately, and piping hot.
Photo Credit: wholefoodsmarket.com