Had you been Italian, you’d have understood the significance of cooking the perfect pasta dish. We can’t make you Italian now. But we sure can help you cook like one.
Since pasta’s popularity has increased, myths have begun to surface, which can get in the way of perfect Al Dente. Allow us to burst some pasta myth-bubbles, if we may (we couldn’t help ourselves) that have been doing the rounds.
1. You should add oil to the water.
Adding oil to the water makes the pasta more slippery. As a result, the sauce won’t stick with the pasta. And then the oil is wasted, and then you feel foolish. But don’t feel foolish. There are other ways to ensure your pasta doesn’t stick together; making sure there’s plenty of water in the boiling pot, for one. And once the water reaches the right temperature, make sure you stir it occasionally.
2. You should rinse the pasta.
True and False.
If you’re making a cold pasta salad, wash away. But only if. If you’re making a dish, rinsing boiled pasta only washes away the precious starches, causing the sauce to not slip away from the pasta. And nobody wants that.
3. It’s all about the sauce.
Pasta is the hero here. Why drown it in sauce? The perfect pasta dish is a fusion of the right forkful of pasta and the freshness that the fitting filling of sauce brings along. Complement, not overwhelm.
4. Always drain well and thoroughly.
True and False.
You need to drain the pasta thoroughly. However, you should retain some of the starchy pasta cooking water. It’s invaluable for thinning sauces (especially thicker ones like pesto), and enables them to stick well with the pasta. But well, you know that by now.
5. Pair any pasta with any pasta sauce.
We shudder at the very thought of tortellini in Alfredo sauce, or pasta soup being served without a spoon (but we digress). Here are 3 rules of thumb that can never be taken too lightly. (1) Meat sauces pair best with wide, flat pasta such as pappardelle or tagliatelle; (2) thinner, watery or oily sauces go well with thinner pastas, such as capellini; (3) thick sauces complement tubular noodles like rigatoni or penne while the vegetable-based sauces work well with short shapes like farfalle or conchiglie.
6. Fresh pasta is always better.
Just because it’s fresh doesn’t mean it’s better than dry pasta- they’re just different. And just like different pasta shapes taste better with different sauces, so certain sauces are usually served with fresh pastas, while others are more suitable for dry pasta. Different strokes.
7. Breaking pasta will make it cook faster.
You don’t need to break the pasta, but if you like shorter noodles, it’s your call. The rate at which it cooks depends solely on the diameter and thickness of pasta. So make sure the pot you’re cooking in is deep enough to fully submerge the pasta.
8.Eating pasta will make you gain weight
To those who think that pasta is fattening, consider that Italians eat three times more pasta than Americans, yet the adult obesity rate in in the U.S. is three times higher than in Italy.
Pasta is not fattening. One cup serving of pasta contains less than 200 calories with only 1 gram of fat. And if you’re consuming Panzani, there’s loads of vitamins and minerals that are yours for the taking even before the fiber-rich veggies or protein-filled meats are added. All things considered, most pasta dishes will weigh in under 500 calories. So when eaten in moderation, pasta is healthier than most meals.
Bear these in your mind and nothing can stop you from preparing the perfect, Al Dente pasta dish, one that even the Italians would wait at the table for.