Tips for boiling pasta
- Prevent herbs from flying all over the place when chopping; sprinkle a bit of salt onto the board. This will keep them in place.
- When you make pasta, salting boiling water will add flavour from the inside out. The rule is about 1-2 tablespoons for a large pot of water, stir it until it dissolves, and once boiling, add pasta. It sounds simple (and it is!), but it will elevate the taste of your dish.
- Use enough cold, fresh water that once the pasta begins to cook and expand, there will still be plenty of room for the noodles to move freely. You also want enough water to balance the heat once the pasta is added, allowing it to come back to a boil quickly. The rule of thumb is at least three litres of water to every 250g of pasta.
- Everyone is still debating whether putting a teaspoon of oil into the boiling water before the pasta goes in prevents it from sticking or not. Personally, I always add it in, and I have never felt it has done any harm to my pasta; and it sure has never stuck together.
- Salting the water is your only opportunity to season the pasta itself. The water needs to “taste like the sea,” in order to flavour the pasta. Three litres of water requires a minimum of 1 tbsp salt.
- Do not boil pasta in a covered pot, as it will quickly overflow. Quick tip: Just leave your wooden spoon in the pot to prevent spillovers.
- As soon as you drop your pasta in the water, stir it. This prevents the pasta from sticking together, or to the bottom or sides of the pot. Stir occasionally during the cooking process.
- Do not overcook pasta; cook the pasta to an “al dente” state, which is tender but still having a slight bite to it. Overcooking will cause the pasta to become mushy.
- Remember that the actual cooking of the noodles should be the last step in your meal preparation.
- Once pasta is cooked, you want to add it to the sauce immediately otherwise it will begin to stick and become gluey. You cannot fix that.
Pasta Reheating Tips:
- When microwaving leftover pasta, heating individual serving size portions one at a time works better than trying to reheat several servings at once. The individual servings will heat more evenly.
- Using a round or oval microwave safe dish for reheating in the microwave allows the pasta to reheat more evenly. A square cornered baking dish has a tendency to allow the corners to overcook.
Light Tips for Pasta Dishes:
- Prepare dishes flavored with vegetables and herbs rather than cream sauces.
- When possible, use low-fat cheese, such as ricotta or cottage cheese in place of other cheeses.
- Reduce the amount of cheese, used on the top of baked dishes.
- When making sauces that call for butter, replace it with olive oil.
- When making a cream sauce, use skim or low-fat milk instead of cream.
Did You Know?
If you have always thought that the Italians gave birth to pasta, you would be mistaken. The idea of the noodle is actually a Chinese invention that is over 4,000 years old. The Romans got hold of the stuff however, and added their own spin by changing the ingredient base from rice flour to semolina flour. Pasta making has changed very little since the early days, except for some automation that was brought about by pasta machines.