Everyone loves pasta. This Italian creation has clearly transcended regional boundaries and broken down language barriers to bring to the rest of the world a gastronomic enjoyment that everyone can agree to. And while cooking pasta may seem easy enough, there are still those who may have a little more difficulty when it comes to serving the perfectly-cooked pasta on the dinner table. Not to worry as we’re here to share with you 10 very easy and simple steps on how you can cook and deliver the perfect pasta to your family.
Prepare the Sauce
The secret to making the perfect pasta is in the timing of its sauce. It should be ready about 1 to 2 minutes before the pasta is ready or has achieved that classic al dente firmness everyone is talking about. As such, you have to consider two things. First, the total length of time needed to cook the sauce. Second, the total length of time needed to cook the pasta, al dente.
Depending on the type of pasta that you will be using, you will be cooking this in about 8 to 12 minutes. You will have to read the cooking directions in your pasta product. If you’re making your own pasta using the best pasta maker in town, then you may have to test the length of time it would need for your noodles to cook.
As for the sauce, more complex sauces can be made ready in 30 minutes while others can be had in less than ten. You may want to try out making the sauce to have an idea how long it would take to prepare it. For example, if you found out that the sauce can be cooked in 15 minutes and you have pasta that can be cooked in 10 minutes, then you need to start cooking the pasta at the 5th minute mark of the sauce. These will make sure that both the pasta and sauce will be finished cooking at the same time.
For every 100 grams of pasta, use about a liter of water. So, if you are going to cook about half a kilo of pasta, then you should fill your pot with 5 liters of water. Now, you will also have to factor the time it would take for the water to boil in your cooking of the sauce. If it takes you 10 minutes to bring 5 liters of water to a boil, then this means you are looking at a 20-minute cooking time for the pasta (10 minutes to boil and 10 minutes to cook pasta). In this case, you will have to start cooking the sauce about 5 minutes before the water starts to boil.
Add Salt Only at the Correct Time
You should add salt only when the water is already boiling briskly. This means you see plenty of large bubbles in the water. The rule is to put 8 to 15 grams of salt for every liter of water. Ideally, you would want to dissolve the salt in the boiling water before dropping the pasta by stirring it. You can also adjust the taste by adding more salt. That’s why it’s best to put in 8 grams per liter of water first so you can still make adjustments later on.
Add the Pasta
After dissolving the salt and adjusting the taste, wait for the water to briskly boil again. Once briskly boiling, drop the pasta and give it a stir to help distribute the salted water through the individual strands.
Do not cover the pot while stirring occasionally. Some folks will add oil into their pasta. If you’re such an individual, now’s the perfect time to add oil. This is especially the case for those who make fresh pasta. If you are using dried pasta, adding oil is not really necessary.
Add Some of the Pasta Water and Add to Your Sauce
Five minutes into the cooking of the pasta, scoop a few tablespoonfuls of the briskly boiling pasta water into your sauce. The idea is that the starch from the pasta that’s now incorporated into the water will make your sauce richer and thicker. If you have already cooked your sauce at this point, simply add the pasta water and cook through for a couple of minutes to draw the starches from the water and into your sauce. If you’re looking to serve raw sauce, cool down the pasta water first before mixing it into the sauce.
Check the Correct Firmness of Your Pasta
About two minutes before finishing the cooking of the pasta, you should try to a single strand. What you’re looking for is a bit of firmness to the pasta. It is almost done; although it will still need a minute or two before being finally cooked al dente.
Strain the Pasta 1-2 Minutes before Being Completely Cooked
One to 2 minutes before completely cooking the pasta, strain it from the pot. You have to act fast. The longer it stays in the pot, the closer it is to its doneness. What you want is to continue cooking the pasta in the sauce so that the delicious flavors and aromas of the sauce will also be imparted into the pasta.
Add the Pasta Directly into the Sauce
Quickly add the pasta directly into the sauce (we presume you timed it correctly so that they will both finish cooking at the same time). Stir thoroughly for about a minute so that the sauce will coat every single strand of pasta. If you have raw sauce, you should put this in a bowl instead of a hot pot. You can then add the pasta into the bowl of sauce for you to mix it well.
Perfectly-cooked pasta is one that is perfectly timed. As such, it is imperative that you serve the pasta immediately after cooking; otherwise, it will keep on cooking and you’ll be left with soggy, overcooked pasta.
Timing is everything when cooking really great pasta. Keeping in mind these 10 easy steps should help you serve perfectly-cooked pasta to your loved ones every time.