Cooking tips to get the perfect pasta every time

follow these tips for perfect pasta

Pasta is a pantry staple because it’s so versatile and quick to whip up a plate for a weeknight dinner. Plus, there are a few easy cooking tips that can guarantee perfect pasta every time.

Make the water as salty as the sea

Even when tossed with a flavourful sauce or a pesto, if you haven’t salted your pasta water the entire dish will taste under-seasoned. Seasoning the pasta water is the only chance you get to flavour the pasta itself, and it’s a necessary step that shouldn’t be neglected.

Try one tablespoon and a half of salt for every litre of water in the pot. But keep in mind that not all salt is made equal, for example, kosher salt is not as intense as table salt.

Another good rule of thumb is to make your pasta water as salty as the sea. It is possible to add too much salt though, so make sure you taste as you go.

Don’t add olive oil to the water

This is a hotly debated issue but adding olive oil to pasta water can actually prevent sauce from properly sticking to your pasta. Ideally, you want every pasta piece to be coated in the sauce for maximum flavour (and the perfect texture), so adding olive oil is generally going to be a mistake.

Read: The history of pasta

Take the time to make your own pasta sauce

If you have the time to whip up a sauce, it’s usually a hundred times better than the jars you can pick up at the store, and it’s probably cheaper.

Also, making your own sauce means you can control exactly what goes into it, so you can avoid high levels of sugar and other unwanted ingredients.

If you’re short on time or don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand, you can always use tinned tomatoes. Alternatively, opt for an olive oil based sauce if you’re looking for something quick but delicious.

Cook the pasta directly in the sauce

This is the perfect tip to make a one-pot weeknight pasta dish. First, make a tomato sauce with tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic and any herbs or spices you typically add to your pasta sauce. Then, add some extra water.

Pop the dry pasta right into the saucepan and stir. As the pasta cooks, it will absorb the excess water so once it’s done cooking, all you’re left with is cooked pasta and a delicious, rich sauce.

Read: Smoked Salmon and Pesto Pasta

Don’t throw the pasta water down the drain

Pasta water makes a great addition to the pasta sauce. Add about a 1/4–1/2 cup or ladle full of water to your sauce before adding the pasta. The salty, starchy water not only adds flavour but helps glue the pasta and sauce together; it will also help thicken the sauce.

Make sure you choose the right pasta shape

Believe it or not, there are more than 500 pasta shapes in Italy. That’s a lot of pasta! Though there aren’t nearly as many types of pasta in the aisles of your local grocery store, choosing the right cut for your dish can be a difficult task.

In general, the larger pasta shapes with hollows and sauce-hugging curves are best suited for thicker, heartier sauces, while thinner and more delicate strands are used for light oil-based or cream sauces. A shorter pasta shape is best for baked dishes.

Don’t rinse your cooked pasta when serving it hot

The only time it makes sense to rinse your cooked pasta is when you’re making a pasta salad dish that you want to eat right away. Rinsing pasta removes the starch, which you don’t generally want in pasta salad dishes but you do want when serving hot pasta dishes.

Cook pasta in a broth or stock

To really jazz up a special pasta dish, boil the pasta in a tasty broth or stock. When the pasta absorbs the liquid, it will become infused with the flavour.

This cooking method results in a more flavourful dish no matter which sauce you choose to add after cooking.

Read: Hearty Pasta with Healthy Greens

Don’t pre-cook baked pasta

If you need to make a pasta bake but don’t have access to a burner, you can just soak your pasta in salted water for 45 minutes.

Once you’ve soaked your pasta, you can then drain it and add it directly to the dish with your other ingredients.

As long as there’s enough liquid in the sauce, the pasta will come out of the oven nice and tender with a slightly burnt crispness.

What’s your go-to pasta dish? Do you have any other tips for perfect pasta you think we should know? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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