Food

11 ways to ruin pasta

By: Canadian Living
Canadian Living
Food

11 ways to ruin pasta

By: Canadian Living
Pasta is such a simple dish, yet it can be hard to get it right. Everyone has had a bowl of bad pasta; either overcooked, undercooked, too saucy, the list goes on. Here are 11 ways cooking pasta can go so terribly wrong - and how to avoid it so your next bowl is perfect! perfect pasta dough 1. Using a small pot - Pasta needs room to move. A small pot crowds the pasta, cooks it unevenly and makes it gluey. Use a large pot, probably the biggest one you have, and plenty of water. sauteed mushroom linguini 2. Not using enough water - How much is enough? For each pound (450 g) of dry pasta, use about 20 cups (5 L) of water. Dry pasta will double in size as it cooks, so it needs the room, and water, to expand. 3. The water is not boiling - Bring the water to full rolling boil (that means lots of bubbles all over the surface that remain after being stirred). Cooking pasta in water that is not boiling will lead to starchy, gummy pasta...not good. Start timing the cooking from the moment the pasta and water return to boil. Garlic Scape and Zucchini Blossom Pasta 4. Not salting the water - When we call for “salted water” in a Canadian Living recipe, we use 2 tbsp salt for 20 cups (5 L) water. When we call for “lightly salted water,” we reduce the salt to 1 tbsp. The salt gets absorbed and flavours the pasta as it cooks. ultimate-mac-and-cheese 5. Adding oil to the water - Oil in the water will just make the pasta oily and the sauce will just slip right off. To prevent the pasta from sticking together, simply stir occasionally. 6. Not stirring - Forgetting to stir the pasta occasionally, especially during the first few minutes, will mean a stuck on mess on the bottom of the pot. Also, stirring helps to separate those long, thin pastas (like spaghetti) so you don't end with a big stuck together blob. Slow Cooker Tender Beef and Tomato Ragù 7. Undercooking - Pasta is ready if it is tender but still holds its shape and is al dente, or slightly firm, to the bite. Too firm or crunchy is not nice. To check if pasta is cooked properly, remove a piece from the pot and let it cool slightly before tasting. spring primavera pasta with goat cheese 8. Overcooking - Even just a few minutes too long in the water will mean overcooked, floppy, mushy noodles. Gross. 9. Rinsing cooked pasta with water - Rinsing will wash off the starch on the surface of the pasta which normally helps to hold sauce onto the pasta. Plus, rinsing will cool down the pasta too much. Hot pasta holds onto more sauce than cold pasta. Only rinse cooked pasta when making pasta salad; it helps to stop the cooking. Pasta Shells With Creamy Cauliflower Sauce 10. Throwing out the pasta water - Save that starch-ladened, salty cooking water to adjust the consistency and flavour of the sauce. You will probably only need a few tablespoons. 11. Too much sauce - No one likes a bowl of pasta swimming in excess sauce. For Italians, the pasta is the star, and the sauce is the accompaniment. Enough sauce to coat the pasta with a little extra is all you need. Here are more tips on all about pasta and how to cook pasta. And check out the Test Kitchen blog for more cooking tips. Tell me - What are you pasta cooking tip and tricks?   Photography by Ryan Szulc (top); Jeff Coulson (all others)    
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11 ways to ruin pasta

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