Monday, February 23, 2009

Cooking Pasta

Ee all use boxed pasta. It's just a way of life. But what comes with that is an overcooked, mushy mess. Yep, whoever thought up the current pasta directions for cooking that is labeled on the boxes was either asleep or had no teeth. Pasta is meant to be al dente, which means "to the tooth". This does not mean stick to your teeth, it means the pasta should have some firmness, some bite to it. So enough with the "if it sticks to the wall it's done", that only leads to mushy pasta and bad wall d├ęcor. Here are a few tips to help your pasta become the mainstay in your dish once more.

- Use a lot of water. For a pound of pasta, you should be using about a gallon of water. This will help in even cooking.

- Salt the water. Use a lot of salt. It has nothing to do with the boiling point and everything to do with taste. Do you not salt the rest of your food? So why should pasta be different. Use about 3 T for a gallon of water.

- Add some oil. 1 T is plenty, and this actually has nothing to do with flavor. It prevents the pasta from sticking and the water from boiling over (really, it works). Most of the oil will be kept in the water and not make it into your dish.

- Don't rinse your pasta. It washes away starch and prevents the sauce from sticking. Unless you need to shock it for later use (cold water will stop the cooking), rinsing your pasta will only cause it to be watery and your sauce to remain on the plate.

- Whatever cooking time the box tells you, decrease it by 2-3 minutes. When that time comes up, taste the pasta. If it is way too firm (and has a dry center), cook it for a minute more. Remember when you toss the pasta with sauce it will absorb a little bit more of the liquid, so undercooking it slightly is not a bad thing.


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