Food & Wine

9 ways to improve your pasta

9 ways to improve your pasta

Here are nine tips to help you achieve your tastiest pasta yet.

1. Don't over-cook it

It can be hard to perfectly finesse the timing when it comes to cooking pasta, but it can make all the difference to the taste.

Pasta should have a slight firmness to it but be chewy with a uniform colour.

Make sure you check your pasta one minute before the packet’s recommended cooking time is up, and avoid overcooking it as it’ll go mushy.

2. Don’t get the pasta to water ratio incorrect

Pasta needs a lot of room to expand while it cooks, so a large pan is essential.

This will prevent it from sticking together in the boiling water.

You should also stir regularly to get an even cook and to prevent any clumping.

3. Don’t add olive oil to the pasta water

Many people think that you should add olive oil to your water when cooking to stop the pasta from sticking together.

However, you should avoid doing this as it’ll leave a film on the pasta after it has been drained.

This will stop sauces from clinging to it.

4. Don’t waste the pasta water after draining

Firstly, make sure you add salt to your pasta water when it is coming to the boil.

After cooking, many people drain their pasta and pour the water down the sink, but it can actually help to thin the sauce later if needed.

It’ll boost the flavour without adding extra salt.

5. Don’t wash off the flavour

Lots of people choose to rinse their pasta after cooking, but you should avoid this if you can.

This is because you will wash off some of the pasta flavour, and you will also lose some of the starch which helps bind the sauce to the pasta.

6. Don’t choose the wrong sauce for the pasta type

Choosing the best sauce for your pasta can help to enhance the meal.

Spaghetti obviously works well with bolognese, and also pairs with creamy sauces, as does linguine and fettuccine.

If you have short pasta in a tube shape, you should consider using chunky vegetable sauces.

Pappardelle’s ribbon shape or rigatoni’s ridges work well with a meaty ragu.

7. Don’t overdo the sauce

If you want to get pasta that would be approved by the Italians, try to aim for pasta that is coated by sauce but not drowning in it.

The best way to ensure you don’t overdo it is to add the cooked and drained pasta into a large frying pan and then add the sauce slowly.

8. Don’t put the heat too high with carbonara

Have you ever tried to make a carbonara and the sauce slightly resembles scrambled eggs?

You may have had the heat too high, leading to the eggs overcooking.

It can be tricky though, as you need enough heat to thicken the egg and melt the cheese.

Here’s a chef’s guide to nailing the dish.

9. Don’t overcook pasta for a bake

Some people find that their pasta is too soft when they serve their pasta bakes.

This can be prevented by undercooking your pasta for a few minutes, as it’ll carry on cooking in the oven.

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