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BackstoryI've just signed up on being a mentor in pasta. I could have done it for Italian cuisine, that I know very well, or on muffins, a big liking of mine.
However, pasta is kind of 'basics' and I often see horrors coming out from foreigners attempts on cooking it. No wonder that pasta outside Italy is often, well, mushy and tasteless.
Here are a few simple tips on how to properly cook pasta. Mind that there are some recipes that do not apply / do not completely apply to this method [not all of the recipes end with 'mix with your sauce of choice and all is well :)], however these are the guidelines everyone should always know and do when cooking proper pasta.
- pasta, of course
- Put the water in the cooking pot. Light the fire, wait for the water to boil.
- Add the salt. The quantity of salt depends on how much water you have there, however you can put a bit, simmer and taste the water. The taste should remind you sea water, as it has to be salty, however not too salty [in this case, add more water] but still, salty.It's because of the salt that pasta gains the perfect flavour. No salt in boiling water means tasteless pasta.
- Add the pasta. simmer.
- Check the pasta pack.. let's assume it says the pasta will be ready in 10 minutes. Do not trust it. Around 8 minutes, start trying a piece of pasta. Is it hard? It needs more cooking. Wait another minute/couple of minutes. Taste again. Any softer? Still too hard? So wait another bit. Pasta doesn't always respect cooking directions printed. It's a basic to taste it.
- When you think it's ready, take it off and mix with your sauce [may be pesto, tomato and basil sauce, vegetables sauces, ragout.. whatever. Even simple butter and oil make a great ensemble with pasta].
- Put in the plate and voilà, you made the perfect pasta! Congratulations!