So the renovation of my grandmother’s house/our rental home is really coming along! There are a few changes from the last update, although they’re not incredibly visible on pictures, like the wall paint, trim paint, and we’ve painted the walls downstairs as well.
The kitchen cabinets and appliances will come in next week. Then comes installation, then countertop installation, and then finishing touches. If all goes well, we should be moving in at the beginning of July
Anyway, on to the actual point of this week’s blog.
- Use a large pot. A large pot will be able to hold the water and the pasta without everything spilling and/or boiling over. It doesn’t have to be an enormous stock pot, but it can’t be “just big enough” either. A pot with a lot of room also gives the pasta enough room to cook evenly.
- Use enough water and don’t forget to add salt! Salting the water adds flavor to the pasta and enhances the final dish. The old saying is to make the water “as salty as the sea”. In truth, I don’t always add that much salt. However, I can tell the difference in the final dish when I don’t. The general proportions are: for every 1 pound of pasta, use 4 to 6 quarts of water and 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt.
- Note: Don’t add olive oi to the water, however. It doesn’t really keep the noodles from sticking-it just makes everything oily which makes it harder for the sauce to cling.
- Add the pasta to the water after you bring it to a rolling boil. This will keep the pasta from becoming too mushy and tasteless. It is okay if it isn’t boiling the entire time, however.
- Always check the packaging for the correct cooking time. All pasta types require different cooking times to maintain peak taste and texture.
- Set the time for the least amount stated on the packaging and taste the pasta to see if it’s to your liking. If you feel like it needs a minute or two more, reset your timer.
- Cook until al dente. Al dente literally means “to the tooth” in Italian, meaning cook the pasta so that it’s cooked through but it has a bite to it, or it’s still a slight bit chewy and has lost its raw taste. This, again, keeps the pasta from becoming too mushy. Plus, it’s just the way they prefer to eat pasta in Italy.
- Another note: If you’re going to be simmering the noodles in sauce after it’s been boiled, cook it until it’s just about al dente so, again, they don’t get overcooked (you just don’t want to overcook pasta).
- Reserve a cup of the pasta liquid. I usually scoop it out before pouring the noodles into a colander to drain, but you can scoop some out of the pot if you have one of those nifty pasta-cooking pots (I gave mine to my roommate in Seattle before I moved because I couldn’t fit it in my car…). Why? Because adding a little bit of the pasta liquid, which is rich with pasta starch, will help make the sauce silkier instead of thick, clingy, and slightly… rough. You don’t have to add the entire cup, either. Just add a little bit at a time, but at least you’ll have it if you need it. And on that same note…
- Don’t rinse with water unless you’re using the pasta for a pasta salad. The pasta doesn’t need to cool and you’re rinsing away sticky starch that will help the sauce cling to the noodles. If you’re using the noodles for pasta salad, you can rinse with water to cool them and ready them for use.