Giada De Laurentiis has got nothing on you. At least she won't after you read this fab info, generously shared with us by PopSugar.com. These tips will turn you into the best Italian chef in town and they aren't even hard or frustrating to do. If you've always wanted to turn out mouthwatering Italian dishes that make your taste buds dance, this stuff is sure to get you there. Next time you're in charge of dinner, have no doubt that you will impress. Yum!
1. Quickly Mince Garlic Using a Microplane
The quickest way to chop garlic isn't with a knife, but with a microplane. Getting sticky, smelly hands from mincing garlic is the worst, and using a microplane makes the process much more efficient. Plus, grated garlic infuses butter and olive oil and creates a more cohesive, garlicky sauce than minced garlic.
2. Add a LOT of Salt to the Boiling Water when You Cook Pasta
You probably know that salting the water is an essential step when cooking pasta, but do you know how much you should really be adding? The correct salt to water ratio for pasta is one tablespoon per one quart (four cups) of water. Yes, it's a lot of salt, but it's crucial to flavoring the pasta itself — your water should taste like the sea.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Use Canned Tomatoes
In fact, seasoned Italian cooks swear by using canned tomatoes, particularly San Marzano. It's a good idea to keep canned tomatoes stocked in your pantry so that you always have a base for easy dishes like puttanesca pasta and homemade tomato sauce.
4. Use Your Spaghetti Spoon to Measure a Perfect Portion of Spaghetti
The secret to perfectly measured spaghetti is in the tool you're already using to make it. Measuring spaghetti with your spaghetti spoon ensures you'll end up with the ideal portion.
5. Cook Meatballs in Their Sauce
The secret to making classic Italian meatballs is to first brown them in olive oil until they're not quite cooked through and then add them to your homemade tomato sauce to simmer until fully cooked. The flavors need time to marry, and the meatballs become moist and tender when cooked in the sauce.
6. Freeze Parmesan Rinds to Later Add to Soups and Stews
Even after you've shredded the last bit of parmesan cheese from the block, save the rind by keeping it in your freezer. You can use it to flavor soups and stews, like slow-cooker white beans with tomato and pancetta.
7. Choose Your Pasta According to Your Sauce
All pasta shapes are not created equal. It's important to choose the right kind of pasta for whatever sauce you're making, because the sauce clings to and fills the pasta shapes in different ways. Try basil pesto with fusilli, carbonara with spaghetti, and bolognese with pappardelle.
8. Don't Just Drink Wine — Cook with It
Italian cooks know that choosing the right wine isn't just important for drinking, but it's also important for cooking. From spahgetti cooked in red wine to tomato sauce with red wine, there are endless ways to infuse your favorite dishes with your favorite wines (while having a glass at the same time).
9. You Can Make Pasta from Scratch Completely by Hand, without a Pasta Maker
You don't need to invest in an expensive machine to make fresh pasta at home. Making pasta from scratch is as simple as using flour, eggs, and your hands.
10. Make Your Own Breadcrumbs
Step away from the can of breadcrumbs! Making your own breadcrumbs is ridiculously easy, and the flavor and texture can't be beat. Keep your breadcrumbs stored in the fridge and use them in chicken parmesan, pasta with breadcrumbs, and macaroni and cheese.
11. When Making Garlic Bread, Keep the Loaf Intact and Wrapped in Foil
Like breadcrumbs, garlic bread is just one of those things you should never buy premade. Homemade garlic bread is the star of any dinner table, and the secret is wrapping the loaf in foil so that the garlic, butter, and parsley seep into the crevices of the bread.
12. Don't Follow the Cook Time on a Pasta Box
Cooking pasta al dente means cooking it under the recommended amount of time so that it has a slight bite to it and is not fully soft. This is a nonnegotiable cooking step for Italians, and it's the secret to the perfect bite of pasta.
13. Make Authentic Bruschetta by Keeping It Simple
You won't find mozzarella on top of classic Italian bruschetta. The key to making authentic Italian bruschetta is keeping it simple. Lightly rub the slices of bread with a garlic clove, and top with a mixture of fresh tomatoes, chopped basil, olive oil, and plenty of salt and pepper.
14. Treat Pasta Water as an Ingredient
If you adequately salt boiling water before adding pasta, the residual water that remains after the pasta is cooked is a salty, starchy, thickening and flavoring agent. You should save about a cup of the water before you drain the rest; a lot of people like to scoop it out with a mug. When you make classic pastas like cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper), incorporating the pasta water is a must-have step for a silky, "creamy" (without cream) sauce.
15. Don't Skimp on the (high-quality) Olive Oil
Olive oil is perhaps the most important ingredient in Italian cooking, and it should be treated as more than a nonsticking agent. Invest in a high-quality and flavorful variety, and use a generous drizzle to finish off dishes like spaghetti aglio e olio.