Everyone loves pasta. It’s easy, quick and completely versatile. It can be as light and fresh and as hearty and complex as you like. For many, it’s the ultimate comfort food. An Italian family favourite, it’s quickly found its way into Australian homes and has become a staple in our pantries.
But there’s a few secrets to cooking show-stopping pasta at home. A little extra touch here and there, and you won’t be able to tell the difference between your masterpiece and one made straight with love from an Italian grandma! Here’s the secret to cooking amazing pasta.
1. When cooking the pasta, add a little oil and sea salt to the boiling water. Don’t add too much oil, because this will prevent the pasta from binding with the sauce (1 tablespoon per serving is about right). Many people are scared to add too much salt to the water. If you’ve got a really salty sauce, you can afford to be light handed. However, the more you salt your pasta water, the more flavoursome the pasta itself will be. All the salt that is going into the water isn’t going to end up on your plate. It will just mean you don’t have to season the final product as much.
2. Never just pour the sauce on top of cold pasta! No one likes cold pasta with a warm sauce. Undercook your pasta ever so slightly, and then toss it in with the sauce for 1-2 minutes before serving. If you think you’ve accidentally overcooked your pasta, run it under some cold water just after draining immediately. Then combine with the sauce in your pot/pan.
3. When draining the pasta after cooking, save about 1 cup of the cooking water. This starchy water is what is going to help the pasta bind with the sauce. Once you’ve got your pasta back in the pan with the sauce, add a little bit of the starchy water at a time, stirring, and you’ll see it starting to thicken the sauce and it sticking to the pasta.
4. When cooking spaghetti, fettuccine and other noodle like pastas, remember to give the cooking pot a stir every minute or two so that the noodles don’t stick together. This will lead to them clumping and not cooking at the same rate.
5. Be adventurous with it! Add fresh herbs, fresh parmesan, various veggies. The versatile nature of pasta is what allows us to tailor it to exactly what we feel like eating on the night. If you’re looking at your leftover produce or pantry staples going stale and not sure what they go with, just look it up! Search recipes with your existing ingredients to know what else you should add to make a complete dish, or better yet, see what pasta dishes we’ve got on the Mum’s Pantry website!