Cooking The Perfect Pasta
Updated: Jan 7
Learning how to cook pasta is the first step in making a great pasta dish and the steps are very simple. Try to match up the pasta that you choose with the sauce that you plan to use. Delicately flavoured sauces such as a seafood sauce should be paired with a lighter pasta such as angel hair pasta while a chunky beef ragu can be paired with a pasta such as orecchiette (little ears or big ears) or maybe conchiglie (shells). These types of pasta allow the robust sauce to stick to the pasta and to be collected in the formations of the pasta making it easier to eat.
Following are some guidelines to follow when preparing pasta:
The ratio required to cook pasta well is 1 litre of water to every 100 g of pasta. For 500 g of pasta, you will need 5 litres of water The most important thing is to have a saucepan large enough to ensure that it doesn’t boil over during the cooking process.
Water needs to be at a rolling boil as all the pasta should go in together. If you have chosen long pasta, you will need to use a fork to gently curl the strands around the pan so that they are in the boiling water as quickly as possible.
Stir the pasta around quickly when it first hits the water as this is when the starch first begins to soften and you need to keep the strands separate or they will begin to stick together. Pasta swells as it cooks and if the strands are crowded in the water, the pasta trapped in the bottom will cook first and the pasta will not be cooked evenly.
The water in the pan needs to be kept at a rolling boil and if you add 500 g of pasta to 5 litres of water it will come back to a rolling boil very quickly. If you put 2 kgs of pasta into a pan of 5 litres of water it will be a very different story. Try not to cook more than 500 g pasta at one time.
To every 100 g of pasta and 1 litre water, add 10 g of salt. The traditional way to do this is when the water is heating so that the salt disperses evenly. The best salt to use is crystals of rock or sea salt.
Pasta should not be rinsed after cooking. One of the greatest properties of pasta is its starch content so the last thing that you want to do is wash it away. A good pasta should retain most of its starch and leave the water relatively clear. Poor starch in a poor quality pasta will leach into the water, leaving the water cloudy and the pasta limp and with very little bite.
Always save a little of your pasta water when draining. This can be used to add to the sauce helping the sauce to cling to the pasta. The sauce and the pasta should become one entity and cling together so that every nook and cranny of the pasta is coated and saturated with sauce and flavour.
Some pastas are coloured with the use of tomato or spinach and these are the traditional ingredients used to colour pasta and add a little flavour. Aside from this, most coloured pastas are simply a gimmick used to make a dish appear more interesting. It is better to concentrate on the quality of the pasta.
"Easy Meatless Bolognaise Sauce Recipe"
- GF, Veg, Vegan
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
11/2 cups red lentils
400 g good quality Italian crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
½ cup picked parsley leaves
½ cup chopped oregano or basil
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
Dice onions and garlic.
Place in a pan with heated oil and cook till caramelized.
Add red wine and balsamic and remove all caramelization from the bottom of the pan.
Add red lentils , tomato and tomato paste.
Add bay leaves and cook till lentils are cooked through.
Add a little water during the cooking process if required.
Fold in parsley and oregano or basil.
Fold in spinach leaves just before serving on cooked pasta.