Advertising
Advertising

Mastering Pasta: How To Make It Perfect And Delicious, Every Single Time

Mastering Pasta: How To Make It Perfect And Delicious, Every Single Time

Boy, do I love pasta. I’m capable of eating it every day for the rest of my life. Thank you, Italians, for making my life so much better. Gourmands know how a fantastic meal changes the perspective of life. When you want to see a real passion and greatness, you should watch an Italian chef preparing the signature pasta meal. And when you see that end result…

mastering pasta - amazing meal

    Oh, my mouth is watering. I bet you’ve had moments like these; you watch the latest episode of your favorite cooking show, or see some amazing recipes on your favorite site, and you start to crave for that deliciousness. Is there a better way of experiencing it than making it at your home? Of course not.

    Why wasting any more precious moments when you can start right now? Just throw some pasta into the boiling water, prepare that sauce and ingredients, mix them all together, and you’re ready for the evening full of extravagant taste, luscious sensations, and praising experience of a perfect meal. Life is great when we have fabulous food.

    But the reality is, unfortunately, a little different. We prepare pasta for hundreds of years. Occasionally, our pasta meals turn out great. But most of the time, not so much. Everyone who loves a good pasta would agree that a failed attempt at a new gorgeous recipe is something dreadful. What are your worst pasta-making experiences? Sticky, gummy pasta, tasteless, or overcooked? Why do we fail to create a perfectly cooked, flavored and garnished pasta?

      What’s there to know and do to make it perfect every single time? We dive into this problem today. Stick around to find out how to make a perfect, delicious pasta every single time. No more failed attempts, no more disappointed guests, no more food in the dumpster. It’s time for you to master the pasta.

      Most Common Problems And How To Solve Them

      One might wonder: “How is it possible to fail in preparing pasta when it seems so simple and straightforward to create it?”

      Well, it does look like that, but the problem isn’t in the concept. Simple on paper doesn’t have to be simple in real life. After some research and careful examination, we got to the core of the problem. Here’s what affects failure in preparing pasta the most:

      Advertising

      Water-related mistakes

      For a perfectly cooked pasta, you need a lot of boiling water, with a sizable amount of salt, and no oil. People tend to make mistakes in all of these three areas. Let’s break it down:

      Not enough water

        Either a small pot or a just plain ignorance are the most common reasons for this error. All gourmets around the world would curse your name if they knew that you cook your pasta without much water. Pasta needs space to move in the pot, and it cooks in the boiling water. It needs to absorb the water, and a very high temperature stimulates this effect. More water equals higher temperature, but it takes some patience. That’s one of the first steps in creating a perfect pasta.

        Adding Salt

          Here’s a mistake that people oversee often. Adding salt is imperative, simply because pasta needs it to have a flavor. It’s a common misconception that sauce is the only thing that adds a flavor to the pasta. Next, salt enhances the heat in the water, bringing it to a boil quicker, and reaching higher temperature as well. For a perfectly-cooked pasta, you need one gallon of water and three tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta.

          Adding Oil

          Many people add oils into the water alongside salt, to prevent the pasta from sticking. This is so unnecessary. There are claims that it will make your pasta softer, and help bonding with the sauce. There is some truth in here, but you need it in another place – stick with us to find out where. You don’t need any oil in your pasta while preparing or cooking. Additionally, oil will make it slippery, which will degrade the bonding when adding sauce. Please don’t add the oil into the water.

          The Process-Related Mistakes

          While the water-related mistakes tend to cover most of the stuff we do wrong, it turns out that we have some errors during the cooking itself.

          Stirring

            Some people forget about stirring, and leave the pasta to cook while they chill out, or prepare the sauce. No-No. If you don’t stir your pasta consistently, you’ll get a clumpy, sticky mess. Some of it will be edible, while all other will be stuck together in large lumps. Pasta needs to move in the pot to prevent this problem. Use the pasta utensil; those are perfectly made for this situation. Remember, the first few minutes are crucial in making pasta that won’t stick. Later during the cooking, you don’t have to stir all time – an occasional stir will be enough.

            Advertising

            Timing

            The first mistake to mention here is putting pasta in the water before it boils. Combined with the small-amount-of-water mistake, this one almost guarantees for a sticky pasta that feels like gum. Wait for the full, rapid boil, which won’t get lowered when you add the pasta. This will prevent lumps, as the surface of the pasta contains starch which reacts to boiling water the best. When you add the pasta to the water, starch absorbs a lot of heat, lowering the temperature. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a lot of water and to be patient for the full rolling oil. Also, breaking the pasta won’t make it cook faster or better. Don’t do that, please.

            mastering pasta - timing

              Next, we must speak about the actual timing of the cooking. Pasta needs to spend several minutes in boiling water to be cooked well. There are three variations of cooked pasta that you need to consider:

              • Al Dente
              • Soft
              • Firm

              The taste of each is different, and it’s required for a different type of meals. Soft and firm are self-explanatory, while al dente (“To the tooth” in Italian) is the stage of cooking when you have the softness of the pasta, but some tasty structure inside as well. To reach this stage, you need to observe the packaging of your pasta, boil it for the 2/3’s of the recommended time, and then turn the heat off and let it stay for the remaining 1/3rd. Add a cup of cold water when the timer ticks zero to prevent further boiling. (Yeah, it’s a very good thing to have a timer.)

              Hitting the perfect al dente pasta requires precise timing and immediate action. The best way to know if you’ve hit al dente is to try the pasta yourself. This is one of the first rules of cooking. Try the food you’re preparing.

              Draining the pasta

                When you’ve reached that perfect texture, drain your pasta from water. People tend to do this while washing the pasta with cold water. A terrible mistake. By doing this, your pasta will lose the warmth and texture a lot and turn gummy and tasteless. Don’t do this. Instead, just drain the pasta from the cooking water, and get ready to mix it with the sauce.

                Sauce-related mistakes

                Making sauce is a very important part of pasta. Many problems might occur while making a sauce, and we’re here to demystify them so you can avoid mistakes.

                Making a sauce

                Advertising

                  When making a sauce to match your pasta, you need to have several factors in mind:

                  • Not every sauce mixes well with every type of pasta
                  • Timing
                  • Ingredients
                  • The process

                  Since there is a lot of different kinds of pasta, you need to know which sauce goes well with the type you’re preparing. Spaghetti, for example, are going well with meatballs, or with sauces with ground meat inside, like bolognese. Each type of pasta has the perfect sauce, and each type of pasta has the worst sauce to blend with. The experience will guide you through the decision-making process, as you can experiment with the different types of pasta and sauces. Don’t be afraid to fail.

                  When talking about timing, you need to know that sauce usually takes a bit more time than pasta, so if you’re not a skilled chef, make your sauce first and then start to cook the pasta. This is important especially when you’re preparing thicker, more difficult sauces that require more practice and knowledge. Like Alfredo sauce, for example. Alfredo fettuccine is one of my favorite pasta meals. And to master the Alfredo sauce, you need to know the bits of cooking that you can learn by reading and practicing.

                  5443715086_b2aac27ae0_b

                    Ingredients are important at both sides of the meal – pasta and sauce. When making a sauce, always go for fresh ingredients that will bond with each other perfectly as well as bond with the pasta itself. Don’t compromise on ingredients – even one bad ingredient can make a mess out of your perfect meal.

                    The process of making the sauce also needs to be perfect. You have to develop the best way of preparing it, both in effectiveness, timing, and the final outcome. Your sauce has to be perfect in taste, and texture, all according to the recipe you are using. Honestly, this comes with the experience. Your first-time sauce won’t be as perfect as one you see on the TV, and this is a fact. Still, it doesn’t have to frighten you; practice makes perfect, this goes for everything in life.

                    Mixing the sauce with pasta & serving

                    This is the phase of the preparation where you need to be careful, quick, and savvy. You have to be prepared and ready; this means having the sauce ready and warm, and al dente pasta ready for drying with a cup of water where pasta was cooked saved. (Yes, this is a pro tip – save one cup of that water)

                    This process is straightforward, and it goes like this:

                    1. Drain the pasta from water – (never rinse it)
                    2. Have the pan with sauce simmering and ready (your pasta shouldn’t wait for sauce to be cooked, it has to be synchronized)

                    Advertising

                      3. Put the pasta into the sauce pan – not the other way around
                      4. Add a bit of olive oil (or regular oil) and the saved cooking water to the mix
                      5. Stir the mass to coat the pasta completely (do this for full two minutes on high heat, this will allow the pasta and sauce to bond better)
                      6. Serve the pasta with tongs and garnish

                        All of the steps shouldn’t take longer than two minutes each. Remember to have the elements ready before the assembling begins; with everything prepared, you’ll streamline the process which will make no room for error.

                        Enhancing your pasta

                        We don’t have the ability to cook like professional chefs. But we all have an opportunity to learn and use the knowledge. Enhancing your meals with simple tricks and practices will bring them (and your cooking) to another level. When you use these tricks, prepare for some loud praises when you serve your pasta to your guests.

                        • If you want al dente, pull the pasta out of the water before it reaches this state. Your pasta must simmer with sauce on a high heat for two minutes; that’s when you want it to hit al dente level.
                        • Make your sauce a bit more oily than it should be. Pasta will absorb the oil, and it will add the richness to the taste. To achieve this rich taste, many add butter or olive oil at the end, which is also advisable, but the former way is much more efficient because you’ll simmer only for two minutes; adding cold butter or olive oil won’t enhance the bonding like hot oil already in the sauce.
                        • Salty water from cooking is good, but just in some sauces. Keeping a cup of cooking water is really important and good advice. But if you’re making salty sauces, you don’t need that water, especially if you use the previous tip.
                        • If possible, try to get homemade pasta. Bear in mind that this type of pasta cooks for a shorter time than regular one. Still, the difference in taste and quality is enormous.
                        • Add some spices in the pasta while you cook it. When adding pasta to boiling water, stir in some spices and cook the pasta regularly. It will enhance the taste of the pasta significantly.
                        • Garnishing adds the final (very significant) touch. A small, yet important touch will make your pasta taste and look amazing. Be sure to add it on top, depending on the recipe.

                        Having a perfectly made pasta is an out-of-this-world experience.

                        And with the tips learned from this article, you can make it at your home, every single time. It won’t take you long to start making incredible meals with pasta, and everybody you serve will notice that.

                        One last advice: Prepare to be called “The Pasta Master.”

                        More by this author

                        Dejan Kvrgic

                        Blogger, Writer

                        Haircare 101: Hairstyling Tricks for Both Men and Women 30 Excellent Slow Cooker Recipes For Lazy People 5 Things You Must Know to Find the Best Headphones Bedroom Makeover 101: Enhancing The Most Important Place In Your Home 8 Fun Ways to Make Your Wedding Truly Memorable

                        Trending in Food and Drink

                        1 20 Easy Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss 2 The Best Refreshing Morning Routine: Have a Vegan Breakfast 3 25 Best Weight Loss Breakfast Ideas for Busy People 4 8 Best Teas for Weight Loss and Fat Burning 5 27 Healthy Pressure Cooker Meals (with Easy Recipes)

                        Read Next

                        Advertising
                        Advertising
                        Advertising

                        Last Updated on March 25, 2020

                        How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

                        How to Live Longer? 21 Ways to Live a Long Life

                        When it comes to living long, genes aren’t everything. Research has revealed a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make that could help to extend your life, and some of them may surprise you.

                        So, how to live longer? Here are 21 ways to help you live a long life

                        1. Exercise

                        It’s no secret that physical activity is good for you. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy body weight and lowers your blood pressure, both of which contribute to heart health and a reduced risk of heart disease–the top worldwide cause of death.

                        2. Drink in Moderation

                        I know you’re probably picturing a glass of red wine right now, but recent research suggests that indulging in one to three glasses of any type of alcohol every day may help to increase longevity.[1] Studies have found that heavy drinkers as well as abstainers seem to have a higher risk of early mortality than moderate drinkers.

                        3. Reduce Stress in Your Life

                        Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.

                        4. Watch Less Television

                        A 2008 study found that people who watch six hours of television per day will likely die an average of 4.8 years earlier than those who don’t.[2] It also found that, after the age of 25, every hour of television watched decreases life expectancy by 22 minutes.

                        Advertising

                        Television promotes inactivity and disengagement from the world, both of which can shorten your lifespan.

                        5. Eat Less Red Meat

                        Red meat consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer.[3] Swapping out your steaks for healthy proteins, like fish, may help to increase longevity.

                        If you can’t stand the idea of a steak-free life, reducing your consumption to less than two to three servings a week can still incur health benefits.

                        6. Don’t Smoke

                        This isn’t exactly a revelation. As you probably well know, smoking significantly increases your risk of cancer.

                        7. Socialize

                        Studies suggest that having social relationships promotes longevity.[4] Although scientists are unsure of the reasons behind this, they speculate that socializing leads to increased self esteem as well as peer pressure to maintain health.

                        8. Eat Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

                        Omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of heart disease[5] and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease.[6] Salmon and walnuts are two of the best sources of Omega-3s.

                        Advertising

                        9. Be Optimistic

                        Studies suggest that optimists are at a lower risk for heart disease and, generally, live longer than pessimists.[7] Researchers speculate that optimists have a healthier approach to life in general–exercising more, socializing, and actively seeking out medical advice. Thus, their risk of early mortality is lower.

                        10. Own a Pet

                        Having a furry-friend leads to decreased stress, increased immunity, and a lessened risk of heart disease.[8] Depending on the type of pet, they can also motivate you to be more active.

                        11. Drink Coffee

                        Studies have found a link between coffee consumption and longer life.[9] Although the reasons for this aren’t entirely clear, coffee’s high levels of antioxidants may play a role. Remember, though, drowning your cup of joe in sugar and whipped cream could counter whatever health benefits it may hold.

                        12. Eat Less

                        Japan has the longest average lifespan in the world, and the longest lived of the Japanese–the natives of the Ryukyu Islands–stop eating when they’re 80% full. Limiting your calorie intake means lower overall stress on the body.

                        13. Meditate

                        Meditation leads to stress reduction and lowered blood pressure.[10] Research suggests that it could also increase the activity of an enzyme associated with longevity.[11]

                        Taking as little as 15 minutes a day to find your zen can have significant health benefits, and may even extend your life.

                        Advertising

                        How to meditate? Here’re 8 Meditation Techniques for Complete Beginners

                        14. Maintain a Healthy Weight

                        Being overweight puts stress on your cardiovascular system, increasing your risk of heart disease.[12] It may also increase the risk of cancer.[13] Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health and living a long and healthy life.

                        15. Laugh Often

                        Laughter reduces the levels of stress hormones, like cortisol, in your body. High levels of these hormones can weaken your immune system.

                        16. Don’t Spend Too Much Time in the Sun

                        Too much time in the sun can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. However, sun exposure is an excellent way to increase levels of vitamin D, so soaking up a few rays–perhaps for around 15 minutes a day–can be healthy. The key is moderation.

                        17. Cook Your Own Food

                        When you eat at restaurants, you surrender control over your diet. Even salads tend to have a large number of additives, from sugar to saturated fats. Eating at home will enable you to monitor your food intake and ensure a healthy diet.

                        Take a look at these 14 Healthy Easy Recipes for People on the Go and start to cook your own food.

                        Advertising

                        18. Eat Mushrooms

                        Mushrooms are a central ingredient in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s GOMBS disease fighting diet. They boost the immune system and may even reduce the risk of cancer.[14]

                        19. Floss

                        Flossing helps to stave off gum disease, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.[15]

                        20. Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants

                        Antioxidants fight against the harmful effects of free-radicals, toxins which can cause cell damage and an increased risk of disease when they accumulate in the body. Berries, green tea and broccoli are three excellent sources of antioxidants.

                        Find out more antiosidants-rich foods here: 13 Delicious Antioxidant Foods That Are Great for Your Health

                        21. Have Sex

                        Getting down and dirty two to three times a week can have significant health benefits. Sex burns calories, decreases stress, improves sleep, and may even protect against heart disease.[16] It’s an easy and effective way to get exercise–so love long and prosper!

                        More Health Tips

                        Featured photo credit: Sweethearts/Patrick via flickr.com

                        Reference

                        [1] Wiley Online Library: Late‐Life Alcohol Consumption and 20‐Year Mortality
                        [2] BMJ Journals: Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis
                        [3] Arch Intern Med.: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality
                        [4] PLOS Medicine: Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review
                        [5] JAMA: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women
                        [6] NCBI: Effects of Omega‐3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function with Aging, Dementia, and Neurological Diseases: Summary
                        [7] Mayo Clinic Proc: Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period.
                        [8] Med Hypotheses.: Pet ownership protects against the risks and consequences of coronary heart disease.
                        [9] The New England Journal of Medicine: Association of Coffee Drinking with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality
                        [10] American Journal of Hypertension: Blood Pressure Response to Transcendental Meditation: A Meta-analysis
                        [11] Science Direct: Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators
                        [12] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
                        [13] JAMA: The Disease Burden Associated With Overweight and Obesity
                        [14] African Journal of Biotechnology: Anti-cancer effect of polysaccharides isolated from higher basidiomycetes mushrooms
                        [15] Science Direct: Periodontal disease, tooth loss, and cancer risk in male health professionals: a prospective cohort study
                        [16] AHA Journals: Sexual Activity and Cardiovascular Disease

                        Read Next