Spaghetti. Penne. Lasagne. Italy has given us one of the world’s tastiest gifts: pasta. It’s easy to make, delicious and can be paired with an unlimited variety of sauces for an easy, delicious meal. Anyone who has been to Italy will agree that traditional Italian pasta is the best way to enjoy it. If you’d like to make it at home, here are some tips to ensure your pasta is delizioso.
How to cook Italian pasta?
Did you know that pasta is good for you in moderation? A recent study found that, when consumed as part of a low glycemic-index diet such as the Mediterranean diet, pasta does not cause weight gain and may actually help with weight loss. The key is to eat pasta as the Italians do.
Pasta must be cooked al dente in order to be Italian style. “Al dente” is an Italian phrase that literally translates to “to the tooth.” Al dente pasta is slightly undercooked, still firm to the bite. The ideal ratio to cook pasta should be ⅓, 3, 30, which is to say ⅓ oz of salt, 3 oz of pasta and 30 oz of water.
These proportions allow the pasta to move around in the water during cooking and ensures the water will return to a boil soon after the pasta is added.
Here are the basic instructions to cook dry pasta:
- Fill a pot with water and put on the stove on high heat. For best results, use a proper pasta pot with at least four-liter capacity, a built-in colander and a lid. While you wait for the water to boil, prepare your sauce.
- Once the water boils, add salt. Pre-salted water takes longer to boil, delaying your meal.
- When the water returns to a boil after a few seconds, add the pasta.
- Cook for one minute less than indicated on the box, stirring occasionally. Keep the lid off while you cook the pasta.
- At the one-minute mark on your timer, add two spoonfuls of pasta water to the pan you’re cooking the sauce in.
- Strain pasta by lifting up on the built-in colander, if you have one. Transfer the pasta into your saucepan. This is the trick to amazing Italian-style pasta.
- Cook for one minute, stirring a couple of times to toss the pasta in the sauce.
- Remove from heat and serve.
Pasta is incredibly versatile. It can be served with whatever you have on hand, from tomato sauce, cream sauce, or simply tossed in high-quality olive oil and served with roasted vegetables. You can prepare a classic tomato sauce quickly with a few fresh or canned tomatoes, olive oil, basil, onion, and pepper. Or, add zucchini, olive oil and shrimp for a Mediterranean-style feast.
Tips to keep in mind
Here’s a tip to make sure your pasta is al dente: check the center of the pasta noodle. If there’s a white dot or ring at the center, it’s undercooked. Overcooked pasta is mushy and more difficult to digest, so be sure to cook less than the recommended cooking time to start.
The noodles will continue to cook even after removing them from the pot, so experiment with cooking times, erring on the undercooked side first. High-quality pasta is more forgiving with cooking times than cheaper, mass-produced pasta.
Salt also plays an important role, beyond flavor. The salt helps cook the pasta evenly and encourages the release of starch from the pasta. Salt must be dissolved into the water before adding the pasta so that it can penetrate the pasta evenly. Again, wait until the water is boiling to add salt. Another time-saving trick is to prepare sauces in advance and freeze them until you’re ready to eat them.
Of course, if you’re hungry now, come to Serafina Miami and let us do the work for you. Make a reservation or just come on in – see you soon!