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How to cook pasta!

I know that this seems like a crazy post but cooking pasta correctly is so important but so many people are making small mistakes.  I wanted to give you a guide and some help to make sure that you have a perfect pasta dish.

You want to start with boiling water the water should be in a vigorous boil before adding the pasta.  As soon as you add the pasta the temperature of the water will decrease rapidly.  You need about 600ml of water per 100g of pasta this seems a lot of water but you need it to make sure that the pasta has room to move when cooking this will prevent it sticking together! 

When the water is about to boil you need to add salt to the water.  I would recommend about a 1/2-3/4 of teaspoon per 600ml of water.  You need salty water to give the pasta taste you can always add more when you taste the pasta but you can't take it away!  If you add the salt when the water is boiling vigorously then the water will froth and could splash out of the pan and burn you.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, please be careful not to splash any boiling water onto yourself, it hurts trust me!! Stir the pasta immediately so that it does not stick to the bottom of the saucepan.  If you leave pasta without stirring your pasta will stick to the saucepan.  Please do not add oil to the boiling water as all this will do is boil the oil and give the pasta a taste of boiled oil which is not a nice taste.  By boiling the oil you will loose any health benefits that the oil had.

Every pack of pasta will have a cooking time.  This is a very rough guide and the only way to check if pasta is cooked to your liking is to taste it.  By tasting the pasta you can also check for seasoning as well.  Remember that pasta will cook once it is draining and if you are putting the pasta back into a broth or sauce then the residual heat will cook the pasta as well.  This is the same for a Cabonara as well when you put the pasta back into the pan with the egg, pancetta or Guanciale.  Pasta should be served a little undercooked or Al Dente in Italian.  Italians will have the pasta very Al Dente compared to other countries.  Cooking the pasta like this is better for your digestion, it keeps you fuller for longer and lowers the GI index of the pasta so the sugars are released slower into the body.

When you have cooked and drained the pasta pour the cooked pasta back into your sauce pan or into the pan of sauce that you are cooking.  I generally will put the pasta back into the sauce pan and add a few ladles of sauce onto the pasta and stir.  This will coat the pasta in the sauce so that you don't have dry pasta with a lump of sauce.  If you want to add the oil to the pasta now would be the perfect time as good extra virgin olive oil should be eaten raw to keep all the health benefits.

If you are making a cabornara or your sauce has gone a little thick then you can use the starchy pasta water to loosen and emulsify the sauce.  The best thing to do before you drain the pasta take some of the pasta water out with a cup. Then you can add to your desired result.

1.) Boil water approx. 600ml per 100g of pasta

2.) Add salt approx. (1/2 teaspoon per 100g of pasta) before the water boils vigorously.

3.) When the water is boiling vigorously add the pasta carefully. Set a timer to 30 seconds before the time on the packet.

4.) Stir the pasta frequently to stop it sticking.

5.) Taste the pasta when your timer goes off.  Check for consistency and seasoning. 

6.) Taste the pasta again, take out a mug of the pasta water if you need it and drain carefully.

7.) Add the pasta back to the saucepan or into the sauce.  Add some pasta water if you need it.

8.) Add a few ladles of the sauce into the pasta and stir.  Add good extra virgin olive oil if you want to.

9.) Serve the pasta, add the sauce on top and cheese if you want.

10.) Eat the pasta!


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