How to prepare the perfect pasta

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How to prepare the perfect pasta

Perfectly cooked pasta is something of an art, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll never look back. Learn how here.

You might ask yourself, “How hard is it to cook pasta? Don’t you just throw it into boiling water and wait?” Technically yes; however, the pasta you end up with may be mushy, may fail to stick to the delicious rosé sauce you’ve prepared, and may be poorly seasoned. Yes, you can just dump and wait, but the perfectly cooked pasta is something of an art, and once you’ve mastered it, you’ll never look back.

The following tips will ensure that your pasta cooks perfectly every time.

  • Choose a good quality pasta—one made with basic ingredients (water, flour, and sometimes egg), no preservatives, a rough texture, and a very light yellow colour.
  • Make sure to use enough water—approximately 16 cups (4 L) per 1 lb (450 g) pasta.
  • Once water comes to a boil, turn heat down and bring to a low rolling boil, as a high rolling boil may damage delicate pasta.
  • Add at least 1 Tbsp (15 mL) salt to boiling water, which seasons pasta as it absorbs the water. Don’t worry about the salt content, however, as the pasta only absorbs about 10 percent of it.
  • Never add oil to boiling water, as it will make the pasta slippery, which will cause the sauce not to stick to it.
  • Stir pasta immediately once submerged in the boiling water, to prevent sticking.
  • Cook pasta until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before package instructions recommend. To test if pasta is al dente, use tongs to take a piece of pasta from the pot and taste it; the texture should be firm, but not hard.
  • Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining, which may be added to the sauce if needed.
  • Never rinse pasta—doing so will remove the starchy coating that helps the sauce stick to it.
  • Immediately add cooked pasta to sauce and toss; cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes to marry the pasta with the sauce. This is the time to add the reserved pasta water if necessary.

Now top your perfectly cooked pasta with something complementary, such as steamed mussels, Fiddlehead and Walnut Pesto, or Tomato-Basil Sauce.

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