Cooking Tip Tuesday: Secrets to perfect pasta

Perfect Pasta doodle
Young. Old. Single. Married.  We’re a population who loves our pasta.  And while boiling pasta is an easy task, it’s not void of controversy.  Here are a couple pasta water add-ins and a post-cooking procedure that spark some uncertainty:

Salt.  Should you salt your pasta water?  The answer is YES.  Why?  It seasons your noodles from the inside out.  How much?  At least a couple tablespoons but don’t be shy.  Don’t worry too much about the salt that gets absorbed into the pasta (unless, of course, you are under doctor’s orders).  Most of it gets tossed with the water and if you start with seasoned pasta, you’re likely to need less salt in your finished dish.

Oil. Should you add oil to your pasta water?  The answer is NO.  Think about what happens when you put oil in water.  They repel each other, right?  So if you think about adding oil to water, logically, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  The oil ends up congregating at the top of the water, serving no purpose except to lube up your pasta on the way out.  Which, in the end, actually inhibits the noodles from absorbing the sauce.

Worried your noodles will stick to each other?  I don’t blame you. It’s the worst when you get a clump of hard noodles mixed in with the rest of your silky beautiful bunch.  The best way to avoid this is to stir your pasta within the first minute or 2 of cooking.

The last controversy arises once your pasta is cooked…

Rinsing. Should you, could you, rinse your noodles?  You should not, could not, rinse your noodles.  I mean…NO. If you rinse your noodles, you rinse the delightful flavor you just worked so hard to get.  Not to mention you cool down the pasta, eliminating that hot-from-the-pot window, which is the prime time for pasta sauce absorption. PLUS, you rinse away the starch on the surface of your noodles, which is useful in thickening your sauce. 

In short,

  1. Salt your water
  2. Don’t add oil to your pasta water
  3. Don’t rinse your cooked pasta.

The End.



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