Perfect pasta can be sort of elusive. Al dente, as the experts call it, is cooked, but with a bite to it still. You don't want super mushy noodles, in other words. It's harder than it sounds and sometimes the package directions aren't quite right. That's why you need these 10 commandments. You'll always have perfect pasta!
1. Olive Oil is an Ingredient
Instead of just using a small dab of olive oil in your pasta, consider it an integral ingredient. No matter what kind of sauce you use, add a good drizzle of olive oil on top just before serving. Not only does it add flavor, but it keeps your noodles from sticking together.
2. Measure Spaghetti with a Spoon
It's so easy to cook way more pasta than you need, which means you might be eating more than you should. One of the easiest ways to measure out the correct portions is to use a spoon. That hole in the center of your spaghetti server is equal to one serving. Insert the dry noodles into the hole to get one portion of pasta. Cool, right?
3. Keep Pasta Basics on Hand
There's nothing worse than having a pasta craving, but not having the ingredients to make it. That's why your pantry should always be stocked with the basic things you need to whip up a pot of perfect pasta. That means keeping noodles, olive oil and sauce ingredients in your home at all times. Never go without your favorite pasta meal ever again!
4. Save Some Pasta Water
If you're anything like me, you drain the pasta into the sink and get rid of the water. You should be saving about a 1/2 cup of that water for your sauce. It helps any kind of sauce stick to the noodles so you don't get a messy meal or sauce that slides right off the noodles.
5. Stay Away from Jarred Pasta Sauce
You've got the perfect pot of pasta so you don't want to ruin it by serving it with sauce from a jar. Not only is the jarred variety full of salt and sugar, but it never tastes as good as homemade. It's pretty easy to make homemade pasta sauce and you'll be so glad you learned how to do it.
6. Use Salted Water
To ensure that the paste has flavor, you need to add salt to the boiling water before you toss in the noodles. The expert chefs say to add one tablespoon of salt for every four cups of water. You'll be amazed at the difference this simple step can make.
7. Serve Pasta with Fresh Parmesan
You can use the shaker type of Parmesan, but fresh is so much better. If you're a pasta eater, keep a block of it in your fridge so that you can always grate it fresh right over the noodles. Fresh Parmesan tastes great and it's much healthier than the pre-shredded variety.
8. The Shape Matters
There are loads of pasta shapes on store shelves and the type you choose is dependent on the sauce you're serving it with. Shells and elbows are ideal for cheesy sauces, spaghetti and angel hair are perfect for tomato sauces and fettucine is the best pick to pair with meat sauce.
9. Try Making Pasta from Scratch
I can remember when my mom would make homemade noodles and they'd be draped all over the kitchen to dry. Homemade pasta tastes really good and isn't all that hard to make once you get the technique down. Once you've had made from scratch pasta, you'll never go back. The best news - you don't need a pasta maker to do it.
10. Go for Al Dente
Like I said before, al dente is the best option for perfect pasta. What does that mean exactly? It translates from Italian to mean "underdone." Expert chefs say that perfectly al dente pasta is usually about one minute less than the package directions call for.
Have you been following all of these pasta rules? What changes do you need to make for perfect pasta?