Pasta may seem like such a simple dish to cook but there is an art to it. Often pasta isn’t cooked properly and you end up with a sticky mess that still has some uncooked noodles in the middle of it. Here are some common mistakes people make while cooking pasta. Avoid these and you’ll have the perfect plate of pasta every time.
- Not using a big enough pot
This is the most common mistake made when cooking pasta. There is a ratio of water to pasta that you should follow to get the right consistency, you need four quarts of water for every pound of pasta you cook. Most Italian chefs will use even more than that, pasta needs to be able to move around while it is cooking. The right ratio of water will give you the right taste and texture.
- Adding oil to the water
Nobody knows where this trend started but it is time to stop. Most people add oil with the idea that it will keep the pasta from sticking together…it doesn’t. What it does do is prevent the sauce from sticking properly. If you’re pasta is sticking together you need more water not more oil.
- Forgetting to add salt
We are constantly being told to cut back on the amount of salt in our diet so people stop adding salt to the water when cooking pasta. Pasta is not potatoes and it needs salt. First the pasta doesn’t absorb the salt so you’re not going to taste it or eat too much of it, second it keeps the surface of pasta from being slimy. However if you’re making your own pasta and cooking it fresh the water won’t need to be salted.
- Adding pasta to cold water
Pasta needs to be immersed into boiling water right from the beginning. Bring the water to a raging boil before you add the pasta, if you add it to cold water it will ruin the consistency.
- Forgetting to stir the pasta
If you don’t stir your pasta while you cook it will stick together, pasta that clumps together doesn’t cook through consistently.
- Overcooked pasta
Everybody cooks pasta differently and claim it is perfect and yes personal taste is fairly subjective but people still overcook pasta. Overcooked pasta loses its shape, won’t hold sauce and it is limp and just awful. There is no fixing overcooked pasta you will have to start all over again. Test the pasta from time to time as you’re cooking it and remember that it keeps cooking after you take it off the stove.
- Rinsing your pasta
Lots of people drain their pasta and then immediately rinse it under cold water…don’t do this. Once pasta is at the al dente stage there is the right amount of starch to absorb sauce. There are exceptions though, if you’re making pasta salad cold water will stop the cooking process and leave it the right consistency.
Pasta is one of the easiest and most versatile dishes to make, just follow the steps and you’ll have the perfect dish every time.