Pasta likes to be boiled in an abundance of water so it doesn’t stick together. Add a splash of olive oil and salt the water right before you add the pasta. Don’t break the long pasta into pieces, and don’t add the pasta until the water is boiling. But you know all that.
Here are a few less familiar tricks:
- SAVOR THE FLAVOR
Ingredients like onions, garlic, red pepper flakes or other chilies benefit from a quick sauté in a small amount of olive oil until they are fragrant before adding them to a sauce. It releases the flavors, helping to distribute them throughout the dish.
- THERE’S A SECRET TOOL HIDING IN A DRAWER SOMEWHERE
Using a long chopstick, stir the pasta in a clockwise motion while it boils. It helps the pasta to cook evenly and prevents it from sticking together.
- AL DENTE IS NOT MY WEIRD UNCLE
Al dente means a toothsome, slightly chewy texture. Place a colander in the sink before you start cooking it, so pasta can drain right away and the cooking process will stop. It will cook a little more if you follow the next trick.
- IT’S WORTH DIRTYING ANOTHER PAN. NO KIDDING.
Don’t just toss drained pasta with sauce and serve. Heat a pan first, and simmer the pasta and the sauce together for a minute or so, keeping the combination piping hot and evenly distributing the flavor.
- SAVE THE PASTA WATER
Most sauces benefit from a splash of pasta water. Before draining the pasta, reserve a cup of the salty, starchy water. The starch released into the boiling water helps to form a luxurious, silky coating on the pasta. Salt the water either more or less based on the saltiness of the sauce to be combined with the pasta.Use a little pasta water to thin out the sauce if it seems too thick. When combining grated cheese, alternate adding the cheese with adding a little pasta water as the pasta is tossed to help keep the cheese from clumping together.
- FINALLY, A MYTH PUT TO REST
Please don’t throw a piece of pasta at a wall to see if it sticks (meaning it is done). The tidier and much more accurate way to check for doneness is to actually fish out a piece and bite into it. Otherwise, you’ll have pasta that is not properly cooked and a wall to clean.