The Ins and Outs of Making the Perfect Pasta

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Why doesnt my pasta turn out right?

Pasta is pasta; one of the most precious foods for Italians. We cant even imagine how we would live without it. We have it all the time, usually for lunch but less often for dinner, and we season it with plenty of sauces. Above all, it must be cooked properly. No sauce, even the most savory one, can turn some overcooked pasta into a delicious dish.

When surfing the net, the pics I see on social media dont usually make me happy. Just recently I came across a very upsetting pic: Cooking pasta from cold water.

pasta cooking
Don’t do this!
cooking pasta
Do this!

In Italy, we cook it differently. If you want to cook pasta as a genuine Italian does, read this- I will give you a few hints on how to prepare a simply wonderful dish of pasta. 

Lets have a look at some basics: 

How can you make pasta? 

Written here in this blog post, you will find all the details about how to make the perfect pasta. 

pasta in bianco

Lets look into the issue more deeply. What are the main problems you may have when cooking pasta? 

Why is my pasta too salty?

There are two possible reasons: Either you put too much salt in the water, or you might have salted the water too early. 

In the first case, take note of the right quantities: 1 lb (454g) of pasta, 4 quarts (4 liters) of water, and 1 Tbsp (10g) of salt. To be honest, I have never measured it because we learn to cook pasta as all children do. Here in Italy we usually guesstimate it, but we usually measure the portion of pasta so as to not eat too little or too much.

COOKING PASTA

In the second case, you might have added the salt when the water was still cold before it came to a boil. Thus, part of the water has evaporated, and the remaining liquid has become too salty. So fill a pot with water; bring it to a rolling boil; add salt and then the pasta. 

Why has my pasta turned out too bland?

Oops…did you forget the salt? You may have added either too little salt, which has disappeared, or you may have used too much water and the salt has been diluted. How can you fix that? Don’t add any salt to the cooked pasta; just season it with a savory sauce or add some spices and herbs instead. 

Why is my pasta slimy?

Have you added any oil to the boiling water? If so, don’t do this. Adding oil to the water makes pasta sticky and slimy. 

As you may read in some articles, the oil settles between the particles of water and starch creating a kind of foam lid which prevents the water from foaming up and over the sides of the pot. One solution is to place a long spoon across the far edge of the pot. The starch will come close to the spoon and will prevent the water from boiling over. 

Finally, stir the pasta every few minutes with a wooden spoon so that it wont stick together.

The sauce doesnt cling to the pasta evenly 

Adding oil to cooking water makes the pasta slippery; thats why the sauce wont stick to it. Unfortunately, your dish will be bland as a result. If you stir it carefully, your pasta will turn out perfectly. 

Do you want a dish of pasta as good as the one you might have in a top-quality Italian restaurant? First, drain the pasta (put a cup of pasta cooking liquid aside) and put it back into the pan with the sauce.

cooked pasta
Well-cooked pasta

Toss it evenly over medium heat; add some hot pasta cooking liquid if it gets too thick; you do not want to stop the cooking process, which will make pasta tough. Keep in mind that any sauces cling less to smooth pasta than to ridged pasta, like rigatoni or cavatappi. 

Why is my pasta sticky? It is as tough as a brick.

You may have overcooked pasta in too little water; the starch has turned it into a sticky block.

overcooked pasta
Overcooked pasta

Check out the package instructions, set the timer, and drain it as soon as it is done. Toss and serve. This is the only way to enjoy a good dish of spaghetti (or any pasta type) and avoid turning it into a solid block.

Why is pasta hard inside?

You may have undercooked it. How to fix it? Sauté the drained pasta in a pan with the sauce and a scoop of boiling water. Cook the pasta until it is done and the sauce coats it evenly. This way, the pasta will become more flavorful. 

pasta not cooked
Undercooked pasta

Remember: Don’t rinse the pasta under cold water while draining it.  

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