(article by Sandy Little)
Cooking pasta, for some, is a daunting challenge. For instance… a cousin of mine cooked pasta for so long… it came out of the pot in one big clump every time.
If you’re pasta isn’t turning out… the following tips should help you to get fantastic results every time.
1. How much pasta per person? This always seems to be an issue for everyone. Only you know your family’s appetite… but… here is the rule of thumb. A one pound box of pasta will serve 4 big eaters. If you are preparing other dishes to go along with your pasta, a one pound box would easily serve up to 6 people. Note: One cup of uncooked pasta equals two cups of cooked pasta.
2. How to salt pasta? I add a lot of salt to my pasta water. I am told, that it should taste like the sea. Taste the water after you’ve added the salt… the salt taste should be noticeable.
3. Should the water be boiling first? Yes! Bring the water to a vigorous boil before adding the pasta… a boil that you cannot stop by stirring.
4. How much water to cook the pasta in? Make sure the pasta has lots of breathing room. You want the pasta to have enough water to move around freely so it can absorb the water. If there is not enough water, the pasta will stick together and become gooey. Also, you will find uncooked pieces that have stuck together.
5. How to add pasta to boiling water? Slowly add the pasta to the boiling water. Ideally, the water should not stop boiling. If the water stops boiling just stir the pasta until water begins to boil again. This prevents the pasta from sticking together.
6. How to tell when pasta is done? The best way is to taste. Read the directions on the package and, I would suggest, check for perfect ‘al dente’ texture during the cooking time. Pasta is cooked enough when it is “al dente”… meaning… it has a little bite to it. You have cooked it to long if it is sticky.
7. Should I rinse pasta? Some people like to rinse the pasta if it is being used in a pasta salad ( I don’t bother ). The choice is yours. Why not try it both ways. Don’t rinse pasta if you are adding a sauce… you will want to keeps its starchy texture so the sauce will cling.
8. Draining pasta? Most people drain all the water… this could be a mistake. Keeping a little bit of water will prevent sticking. Also, the sauce will blend in better. I always keep a small amount of the pasta water just in case the pasta becomes too dry.
9. Heat your serving bowl! It is a good idea to serve your creation in a warm serving bowl. It’s a nice added touch.
Notes: Never cook two types of noodles together because each type has a different cooking time. One more thing… if noodles are used in a casserole, under-cook them slightly because they will finish cooking in the oven.
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