Curious about the secret behind the irresistibly silky and smooth pasta served at restaurants, while your homemade attempts might fall a bit short? If you find yourself pondering this culinary mystery, fret not, for the solution might lie in the way you're preparing your pasta. But fear not, we're here to guide you through the process. And remember, pasta isn't the only culinary conundrum people face.
In this article, we will go over the common mistakes people run into when cooking pasta. Finally we will review the technique in achieving the best texture for pasta.
4 common mistakes when cooking pasta
1. Putting Sauce on Top of Cooked Pasta:
This is a mistake because pasta needs to be properly combined with the sauce to ensure that each strand or piece is evenly coated. Putting the sauce on top after placing the cooked pasta on the plate can lead to uneven distribution of flavors. Mixing the sauce and pasta together while they're both still hot allows the pasta to absorb the flavors of the sauce, resulting in a more cohesive and delicious dish.
2. Dumping Out All Pasta Water:
Draining pasta in its entirety without saving any pasta water is a mistake because pasta water contains valuable starch and salts that can enhance the sauce. When you save a cup or so of pasta water before draining, you can use it to adjust the consistency of your sauce. The starchy water can help thicken the sauce and allow it to better adhere to the pasta, creating a smoother and more flavorful final dish.
3. Rinsing Pasta in the Sink:
Rinsing pasta under water in the sink is a mistake because it washes away the essential starches on the pasta's surface. These starches are important for helping the sauce cling to the pasta, creating a better texture and flavor. Skipping the rinse keeps the starches intact and results in a creamier, more cohesive pasta dish.
4. Leaving Cooked Pasta Sitting on the Table:
Allowing cooked pasta to sit and cool on the kitchen table while preparing the sauce is a mistake because pasta is best served when it's hot. When pasta cools down, its texture can change, becoming slightly gummy or clumpy. Additionally, hot pasta helps emulsify the sauce, allowing it to better coat the pasta strands. By immediately returning the cooked pasta to the hot sauce after draining, you ensure that both components are at their best when combined and served.
How to get the best texture on pasta
1. Pick a large pot and fill it with 1.5 quarts of water for every 1 cup of pasta.
2. Bring water to rolling boil.
3. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.
4. Add in your favorite pasta, and stir immediately so the pasta doesn't stick together.
5. After 5 mins, stir pasta and check texture by pinching the pasta. After an additional 5 mins, check pasta again.
6. Make sure to take a bit of your pasta, and that the pasta is cooked al dente. This means it's cooked such that the pasta is still firm when you take a bite.
7. Ladle out 1/2 cup of pasta water and keep for later.
8. Remove pasta from heat and drain immediately.
9. Quickly return pasta to warm hot pasta sauce.
10. Mix in the reserved cup of pasta water.
11. Mix in fresh parmesan and basil.
12. Ta da! The perfect pasta texture! The result should look something like this: