Top 5 Tips When Cooking Pasta
Who doesn’t love pasta? I know that I do!! 🙂 It’s filling, tasty, and has that ability to bring people together! Cooking pasta seems so easy: you boil water, add the pasta, and cook until al dente. Doing it is one thing, doing it properly is another, which is why I am going to give you my Top 5 Tips When Cooking Pasta.
Here are 5 simple but essential tips and techniques to help you become a pasta pro:
#1 Use the Right Sized Pot
Depending on how much pasta you’re cooking, pasta must be cooked in a pot large enough for it to swim around. Never use a small pot that ends up crowding your pasta. Pasta needs adequate water for it to be cooked properly.
If cooked in a crowded pot, your pasta ends up sticking to each other, which is not good! This can even happen even you add oil to your boiling water, so always add the oil after the pasta has been drained. But even worse, you may have broken bow ties instead of beautifully cooked farfalle.
#2 Always Add Salt
Salt is the ultimate flavor enhancer, and it’s water soluble. As you cook the pasta in salted water, salt enters the pasta along with the water. This gives the pasta flavor, so you don’t produce bland pasta.
You may opt to add the salt to your cold water before boiling, or add salt while the water is boiling. Salted water takes a longer time to boil, but the difference to unsalted water is rather small (about less than a second). So it’s really up to you when to add, and how much to add. What’s important is to let the salt dissolve in the water, and allow enough time for the salted water to seep into the pasta.
#3 Boil, Not Simmer
I know how it is when you are trying to throw dinner together and you are crunched for time. Nonetheless, even if you’re rushing, wait for the water to boil before you toss in the pasta! A mere simmer just won’t do. Technically speaking, water boils at 212 F (100 C), while simmering is only at 185-200 F (85-93 C), which causes some pieces of pasta to cook unevenly when you use simmering water. Visually, you can tell if the water is boiling by how vigorous the bubbles form on the surface, and how big they are.
#4 Cooking Time
Cooking time for pasta will vary depending on its shape, type (regular, whole wheat, gluten-free) or how much you’re cooking. Please note that fresh pasta always cooks faster than packaged pasta.
Moreover, every pasta manufacturer has its own recommended cooking time. If you’re the type who experiments with different brands, make sure you read the package. One brand may have a different cooking time from your current brand.
What’s the best way to tell if it’s cooked? Check a minute or two before the recommended cooking time, which will help you keep an eye on the level of “tenderness” that you may prefer.
#5 To Rinse or Not
Finally, whether or not you rinse your pasta post-cooking depends on how you’ll use it. For cold pasta salads or stir-fry dishes, go for the cold rinse! 🙂 It stops further cooking, and removes the starchy part that makes cold salad or stir fry lumpy. When serving pasta with a sauce, you don’t have to rinse.
The next time you cook pasta, follow these 5 simple tips and you’ll be an expert in no time! 🙂