10 easy steps to up your pasta game today
Pasta – one of the easiest, cheapest, and most comforting foods of all time. A staple of the Mediterranean Diet and quite frankly, one of the best things in life. You can have a look at some of the easiest and most delicious pasta recipes here, but before launching yourself into that, let’s review the basics. Why, you ask? Because, no matter how common pasta is, as an Italian expat I still often see how this beautiful food gets overcooked, under seasoned, and generally mistreated (trust me, every time you overcook your spaghetti, somewhere, there’s an Italian crying). Here are a few, simple steps that you can take today to step up your pasta game:
- Have a pot wide and deep enough for your pasta. This will depend on the quantity and type of pasta you are cooking. For example, if you are cooking spaghetti, put your porridge pot aside. You want a pot that is high enough for them to freely move around, not a minuscule pot where they are all crammed and stuck to one another.
- Take the water to boiling point and add enough salt. Again, this will depend on how much pasta you are cooking.
- Now that your water is boiling and salted, joyfully throw your pasta in the pot. Let me repeat that: let the water boil, and then put your pasta in. In my first years in the UK I have witnessed all kinds of pasta cooking abominations, from throwing pasta in cold water to cooking it in a kettle. Yes, a kettle. I don’t think I will ever recover from that.
- Stir those bad boys. Don’t let them end up in a gluey mess. You want to enjoy each of your penne separately, not as a block of ten.
- There is a cooking time on your pasta packet for a reason. Please do not check the state of your pasta by throwing it to the ceiling/ walls/ tiles. Put your timer on and taste the pasta. That’s the way to do it.
- Cook your sauce, whatever that might be, while your pasta is cooking. Something that I have seen all over social media is people cooking pasta, and then putting it aside to cook the sauce. I’ll tell you what will happen if you follow this unfortunate course of action: your beautiful penne will merge into a solid ball of glutenous stickiness that you’ll have to cut through with a knife. Nobody wants that.
- Once your timer goes off, and/or you have tasted your pasta and you know that it is ready, drain it and then put it in the pan/pot where you have just cooked your sauce in. That allows the pasta to be evenly coated in all the delicious stuff you have cooked.
- For the love of all that’s holy, please, please do not serve your pasta on one side, and sauce on the other. Pasta and sauces are created to compliment each other and to be served together as a holy couple of deliciousness. Serving them separately would be the same as serving fish on one side and the cooked batter on the other. The gods of fish and chips would not forgive you for that sacrilege.
- Serve your pasta as soon as it is ready and piping hot. Do not torture your table guests with a plate of tepid, overcooked pasta. That would make me very sad.
- When, in doubt add the king of cheeses. Last but not least you can never go wrong with a generous helping of parmigiano on top.
Go on now and cook your best pasta!
Tonight we had spaghetti for dinner, served with what I had thought was roasted vegetable sauce. Turns out it was lentil soup. I’d taken the wrong container out of the freezer! Interesting tea…
Haha! A new family favourite?
But wait! What about saving the Holy pasta water for thickening the sauce?
Good point! That was for my next post on how to properly cook your pasta condiments 😉
Barbara, I’m surprised and happy to say that I actually do most of the tips you offered here. My favorite uncle on either side of my family was Amadeo Galeota (obviously not a native Mississippian) He married my father’s sister. They were both in the US military and met during WW2. So he did introduce me to many things Italian. I believe the cheese he sprinkled liberally on pasta was called romano pecorino or something like that? And who could forget spumoni or tiramisu? It’s a wonder I don’t weigh 300 pounds !!! Sadly, he passed away just a few years ago at age 94. My favorite uncle always.
Hi Tim, this is such a sweet memory to share, thank you! Your uncle Amedeo sounds amazing 🙂 It was surely Pecorino Romano he sprinkled on pasta, a great choice (also a family’s favourite for us!).