Pasta originated in China centuries ago, but we most often associate pasta today with Italy. Even Italian law recognizes pasta as under its domain, prescribing that pasta must be made from pure durum wheat semolina flour and that its quality must be certified. Pasta is simple and quick to cook, but some simple tips can help ensure that your pasta comes out perfect. Follow these tips and enjoy a perfect plate of pasta every time.
Recognize that not all pasta will cook the same.
You might assume that all pasta will roughly follow the same cooking timeframe – but that is far from the truth. Fresh pasta will cook more quickly than dried pasta. Different shapes and sizes of pasta will cook in different amounts of time. For example, more rigid pasta, like penne, will require a longer cooking time than spaghetti or elbow macaroni, and if you prefer wheat pasta, be prepared to spend 2 to 4 more minutes cooking it than traditional enriched pasta.
Keep the pasta moving continuously.
After you’ve prepared your large, uncovered pot of boiling water, you might make the mistake of simply dumping in the uncooked noodles and leaving them be. But, hold it right there! Pasta can and will stick to the bottom of the pot if you don’t stir it frequently. Always keep a watchful eye on your pasta and stir it often. Keeping the water rapidly boiling will help this process too, as the movement of the water keeps the pasta pieces apart and helps with cooking.
Know when to stop cooking the pasta.
Depending on what you’re making, you might come across instructions to cook the pasta “al dente.” This common phrase translates to “to the tooth” and refers to pasta that is slightly undercooked but still edible. However, though many Italian recipes call for al dente pasta, certain dishes – like a big pot of comforting mac and cheese – do well with fully-cooked pasta. The best way to tell when you should drain your pasta is by tasting it. Perfectly al dente pasta will be slightly chewy with a very small white dot of the uncooked core at the center. For more tender pasta, wait until there is no white uncooked core showing.
At Oxford at Sonterra Apartments in San Antonio, Texas, we believe it’s important to live life vigorously. Enjoy all kinds of new recipes when you nail your pasta-making technique!