Aug 28, 2012
I Gotcha Pasta
By Chef S. LeDish
Who doesn’t love pasta? It’s versatile. It’s delicious. It conjures up visions of cozy restaurants with checkered tablecloths. A lady and a tramp found love over a strand of spaghetti. And cooking it is as simple as boiling some water and tossing it in, right? Oh, if life were that simple.
When cooking pasta always ensure the water has come to a full, rolling boil. Add a good amount (roughly one tablespoon) of salt to add flavor to the pasta. Then comes the debate as to whether or not to add oil to the water to keep the noodles from sticking together. If you’re making pasta such as lasagna or manicotti go ahead, but with dishes using spaghetti/fettuccine/etc. you might want to hold off, as the oil can prevent the sauce from sticking to the pasta. When you put the pasta in the water keep the heat on high so the pasta continues to boil and not simmer. Most pastas take approximately 8-10 minutes until they are cooked al dente (cooked through with just a slight firmness in the middle – in other words, not mush).
Once cooked, drain the pasta but don’t rinse unless you’re using it for something like pasta salad. And if you have a sauce ready on the stove, combine the cooked pasta with the sauce and let it cook for a minute or two. This will allow the pasta to soak up some of your delicious sauce. Always have the sauce waiting on the pasta – if you have the pasta ready first and let it sit in the strainer it will stick together and you’ll have to start all over. If you have an enormous amount of sauce (like I do when cooking my grandmother’s recipe) but not as much pasta then put the pasta back in the empty pot it was cooked in and ladle in enough sauce to coat the noodles. This will keep them from sticking and add extra flavor.
That’s all there is to basic pasta cooking. Hmmm… maybe it’s not so hard after all.
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