You don’t need to be a Michelin-starred chef to cook pasta; however, it’s also tricky to cook. Without the proper techniques, your pasta could turn out to be overcooked or bland, and you might be making a few mistakes without even realizing it. Here are 1o tips to ensure that perfect pasta meal:
1. Put liberal amount of salt on your boiling water
This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind even before you start cooking–you have to salt that water to make sure your pasta gets flavored. A pinch or two is not enough to get the right taste. The correct measurement is 1 tbsp/ 4 cups of water.
2. Measure portions of spaghetti with your spoon
To be honest, measuring spaghetti is a little odd (I mean, more is better), but if you do decide to measure spaghetti the best way to do it is to fit it in the hollow center of your spaghetti spoon. Crazy right? Who knew that middle actually has a purpose?
3. Save half a cup of your pasta water
Before you drain all that water, make sure you saved yourself at least half a cup. Why? Because pasta water is the secret ingredient to make the best pasta sauce. I dare you to try it for that silky, creamy, tasty sauce.
4. Always, always cook your pasta al dente
Al dente is not just some fancy word chefs throw around when cooking pasta. No one wants an overcooked too soft pasta, or one that is still hard to chew. Al dente means your pasta is cooked just right–crunchy, but not soft.
5. Choose the right pasta for your sauce
No, not all kinds of pasta will go very well with just about any pasta sauce. Some pasta go better with certain sauces because the way it absorbs the sauce. For example, elbow or shell-shaped pasta is best for macaroni and cheese, because the sauce seeps into all the nooks and crannies. Spaghetti goes very well with red and white sauce, while thicker cuts like fettuccine are almost always paired with meatier pasta sauce such as bolognese.
6. Don’t ever use jarred tomato sauce
Making your own tomato sauce is so easy, it’s unforgivable to buy jarred ones no matter how much in a hurry you are. I mean, you only need tomatoes, onion, butter, salt, and basil to get a good sauce. Come on, a little effort goes a long way.
7. Grate your own parmesan
Pasta is not complete without a sprinkle of cheese. If you only want the good stuff for your pasta, get a block of parmesan instead of the preshredded ones and grate your own.
8. Olive oil is an ingredient itself and not just for garnish
Get an olive oil of high quality as this will either make or break your pasta. Your olive oil adds so much to any pasta dish you make. It certainly pays off when you pay extra.
9. Keep your pantry pasta-ready
Meaning, make sure the staple ingredients are at arms reach all the time so you can whip up a nice meal at any moment’s notice.