Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

7 Great Tips for Cooking the Perfect Pasta

posted in Pasta, Rice and Grains by Lisa Freeman

pasta dish

Kathy’s video for cooking pasta is perfect for anyone that’s ever struggled with cooking pasta properly. Kathy shows us the 6 rules for cooking the perfect pasta. Go check it out.

Is that all there is to it? Sure! But if you want to learn just a bit more about cooking the perfect pasta, here are an additional 7 tips:

  1. When the water starts boiling, lower the flame so that the bubbles are small. A big, rolling boil will break more delicate pasta such as ravioli or tortellini.
  2. Don’t boil pasta in a covered pot, as it will quickly overflow. Quick tip: Just leave your wooden spoon in the pot to prevent spillovers.
  3. Never put pasta in a pot that isn’t boiling, as this will only leave you with a gooey, overdone noodle. Yuck!
  4. It’s never a good idea to boil two different varieties of pasta together unless they’re similar in size and shape, due to varied cooking times. It also looks kind of wacky to have spaghetti and penne mixed together.
  5. The jury is still debating whether putting a teaspoon of oil into the boiling water before the pasta goes in prevents it from sticking or not. Personally, I always add it in, and I’ve never felt it has done any harm to my pasta; and it sure has never stuck together.
  6. Don’t rinse your pasta after it’s cooked! This is a terrible myth that’s propagated across the cooking world. That wonderful coating of starch that’s sitting on your heated pasta will keep the delicious sauce from sticking to it. The only time you might rinse your pasta is when using it in a cold dish.
  7. Get the pasta sauce on the pasta immediately after you drain it. The noodles cool down fast and start sticking to each other without a sauce or oil to keep them apart. (

Did You Know?

If you’ve always thought that the Italians gave birth to pasta, you’d be mistaken. The idea of the noodle is actually a Chinese invention that’s over 4,000 years old. The Romans got hold of the stuff however, and added their own spin by changing the ingredient base from rice flour to semolina flour. Pasta making has changed very little since the early days, except for some automation that was brought about by pasta machines. But don’t worry about that, you can just buy it at the store!

For more tips on easy, impromptu pasta meals, click here. Or check out Kathy’s archive of pasta posts.

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3 Comments

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Lisa for this great list of tips!

Just so it’s clear to everyone, do not rinse pasta unless you are going to be making a cold salad. The starch acts like glue and actually helps the sauce to stick to the pasta. Pasta water is often added to increase the stickyness!

Cheers!

Jennifer said:

Great tips!! One thing I would add per the sauce:

Great Italian chefs always heat the cooked pasta and sauce together for a minute before serving- it’s an important step to insure that the pasta really “grabs” the sauce.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Jen! That’s great advice!