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The Perfect Pot O' Pasta

by: Ms. Cora Aenlle
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Pasta is the one dish a lot of people claim to be able to cook. It is true, pasta is relatively simple to prepare. After all, anyone can boil water, right? Even so, there are a few simple tricks to making this most pedestrian of meals gourmet dishes.

Don't scrimp on the boiling water. Pasta likes to have "breathing space", with plenty of room to move around. If possible, use a very large pot with about 6 quarts of water for every 450 gms. pasta.

Add oil. It is necessary to add oil to the boiling water and stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together.

Add salt to the boiling water, about 1-2 tablespoons to 6-quarts of water. This will add flavor and help the pasta absorb the sauce.

Never break spaghetti in half. Add pasta slowly to boiling water, gradually pushing the long strands as they soften.

Don't combine two types of pasta in the same pot of boiling water. One type may cook faster than the other.

Never, never overcook pasta! Pasta must be cooked "al dente", literally means "to the tooth". This is used to describe ideal degree of doneness for cooked pasta - tender, but still firm to the bite.

Do not rely on the clock to evaluate doneness. Use those teeth!

Do not rinse pasta unless you're using it for a cold salad.

A couple of cups saved from the cooking water can be added to the sauce. Starch in the water binds the sauce, helping it to adhere to the pasta.

To reheat pasta, pour boiling water over cold pasta and drain. Never re-boil.

The variations of pasta can be contained within just a few basic forms:

  • Long, round pasta: spaghetti, macaroni, vermicelli, capellini

  • Long, flat pasta: lasagna, fettuccine, linguini

  • Short, shaped pasta: penne, conchigliette (shells), fusilli
  • Stuffed pasta: ravioli, tortellini, canneloni
  • Special shapes: farfalle, rotelle, radiatori

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September 24, 2017

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