Pasta has become a staple in any pantry, which is the same as an improvised meal that can be a luxurious feast for special occasions. We have countless recipes and ways of making it, but -almost all of them include an essential step: cooking. It seems so simple that we often make basic mistakes; really know how to cook pasta correctly it can make a difference in the final result of the dish.
It is humble, but the true quality pasta It is a very careful product made following traditional methods, and with first-class raw materials. The difference in prices between some brands and others is not trivial, and if we have invested in a good package of our favorite pasta, it deserves to be cooked well. Even more so if we start with fresh homemade pasta, because no one will want to spoil it after the extra effort involved in their work.
It is always a good idea to carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions, at least to have a rough idea of the correct way to cook it. However, these instructions often get lame or take for granted issues that not everyone needs to know about. The most useful thing is to pay attention to the indicated cooking times, which usually give an estimate to achieve the cooking point. al dente.
This Italian expression, which today we extend to other ingredients such as vegetables or rice, literally translates as “to the tooth”, in a very graphic description of its meaning. The idea is to obtain a paste that offers a slight resistance to biting in the center, but without being hard or raw. It is the best texture, the tastiest and also the healthiest, as it has a lower glycemic index and is more satiating.
Ingredients and utensils
To cook pasta in the Italian style, you obviously need pasta, and we will also need water and salt. Absolutely nothing else. We are free to add a bay leaf, a clove of garlic or a splash of oil to the cooking water, but it is a practice that only makes some sense if we use poor quality pasta. Any ingredient we add is going to affect the taste and texture of the pasta, and it’s the last thing we look for.
Pasta cooks relatively quickly once the water is boiling, so it is a good idea to have all necessary utensils ready and willing. Basically we need the following elements:
- Good quality raw pasta, dry or fresh, without mixing formats or brands.
- Abundant mineral water, which is also of quality, with a neutral flavor.
- Common table salt.
- A large pot or casserole, tall if we are going to cook long pasta, better with a lid.
- A long spoon, preferably a wooden one.
- A ladle, special long pasta in your case.
- Large tweezers or slotted spoon.
- Strainer / drainer, optional. No, it is not always necessary.
- Kitchen timer or variants, also optional, but useful to keep track of time to the millimeter.
How to cook pasta step by step
1. Heat plenty of water and bring to a boil
Tradition mandates the use of a container in which the pasta can move and grow with enough space so that the pieces do not disturb each other. We can calculate about 3 liters per 250 g of dry pasta. If we are going to cook short pasta, it will be more convenient to use a wide casserole; long pasta you need tall pots. We will put it on the fire at medium-high power, with the lid to speed up the process.
2. Salt the boiling water
Once it comes to a boil, we will add the salt, something essential if we do not want a bland pasta. We could salt the water right from the start, but in theory that would slow down warming.
It is recommended to add between 8 and 10 g of salt for every liter of water. You have to stir it a little to encourage it to dissolve, and wait for it to boil again with joy.
3. Add the pasta
Only when the water is at full boil, with a high temperature and gushing, will we add the pasta. About 75 g dry per person, something more if it is going to be a unique dish without many other ingredients, something less in a more complete menu or as a first course.
You have to throw it all at once, being careful not to burn when splashing, stirring immediately with the wooden spoon to avoid sticking too much to each other and to the bottom. It will almost always stick a little at first, but during cooking it will peel off.
We keep the heat high so that the temperature recovers as soon as possible, and when it comes back to a boil with joy, we begin to measure the time.
4. Precise cooking
The pasta should always cook with the boiling water, at a constant rate but without violent splashes. It is important that all parts are submergedFor this reason, it is necessary to help the longer pasta at the beginning to give way, since the ends tend to protrude at the beginning.
We will control the exact time to remove it al dente if we are going to consume it immediately, although it is more recommended take it out a minute or two before to reach that point. This is key when we are going to mix the pasta in the pan with other ingredients, or we are going to give it a few turns with the hot sauce, as it will continue to cook in that heat.
If we have a good eye we can test it when the end draws near; it must yield but offer resistance in the central part, without being totally raw inside, no creaking. Remember that fresh pasta will take much less time to be ready.
5. Take out and drain
Quickly reached its point, we will turn off the fire and remove the pot from it. We can drain the pasta using the typical strainer over the sink; however, it is advisable to use tweezers or slotted spoon to remove it from the pot.
This way it will drain faster and we will conserve water cooking, which will be very useful if we are finishing the sauce in a separate container.
Never rinse it. If we want to cool it, we can spread it on a clean and cold surface, which we can have placed on ice or in the freezer.
6. Use immediately
Unless we want it cold for a salad, we are interested in using the pasta when it is drained. That is why we should always have the sauce or the rest of the ingredients ready before starting to cook it.
One option is to serve the pasta in a bowl or spread it out on plates, and add the sauce or whatever corresponds on top. It is more recommendable add it to the pan or casserole With the accompaniment, give it a few turns and let it take in the flavors for a short time, finishing its cooking. This way we can take advantage of the reserved water, still hot and rich in starch, to give more flavor and body to the final sauce.
What to accompany pasta with: classic Italian recipes
We have reviewed the process of cooking pasta Italian style; other variants of the world, such as noodles or Asian noodles, ask for different preparations. Of course, we are free at home to follow the method that we like the most (I confess that the smell of pasta cooked with a bay leaf and its dripping oil invades my family nostalgia).
To round the circle, we can apply the theory by putting into practice some of the Italian sauce recipes and more classic accompaniments, of which we highlight some of our favorites:
Photos | iStock – Unsplash – Pixabay
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