This Is the Secret to Making the Perfect Pasta Dish
Happy World Pasta Day!
25 October 2018
Even the most inexperienced of cooks will know how to whip up a bowl of pasta.
However, with the rise of the healthy eating movement, many people are shunning pasta because of its mixture of carbs and gluten. Pasta sales are in decline, and our reticence to boil up some spaghetti is something we’re looking to rectify.
As it’s World Pasta Day, our experts have got us some top tips on how to make the perfect pasta dish. Spoiler alert, it may seem simple but you’re probably cooking pasta all wrong!
You’re probably cooking it wrong
We hate to break it to you, but chances are you’re missing a crucial step when cooking pasta. Regardless of whether it’s dry or freshly made, surely you cook it in salted boiling water and serve immediately, right? The secret, is to let it cool then reheat it.
If you cook pasta, leave it to go cold, then eat it either cold or reheated, you absorb less calories because some of it turns into resistant starch.
The top tip is to cook fresh pasta for one minute in boiling water, and then cool it down in a tray with a generous glug of sunflower oil. If you wash the pasta in cold water it absorbs and expands too much, becoming wishy washy.
Once you’ve cooled down the pasta properly in the oil, you can reheat it or store in the fridge or freezer for later: It will last three or four days in the fridge.
The sauce takes time
When making a basic tomato sauce for pasta, few of us dedicate the time and effort it deserves. The real secret is to make sure the onions are really well cooked and look blonde – not black, we’re not making onion chutney.
So how can you tell when your onion is cooked? When it’s changed colour, smells nice and sweet and doesn’t sting your eyes – then it’s ready.
For a classic tomato sauce, cook onions in oil, pepper and garlic, adds plum tomatoes (because chopped tomatoes don’t break down as well), simmer for around 40 minutes and add salt to taste. It might be a little longer than you’re used to cooking your pasta sauces, but it’s worth it for how rich it becomes.
There’s no need to be scared of oil…
When it comes to sauce, if you don’t have enough oil you can’t cook the onions for long enough to get the sweetness out of them to balance against the acidity of the tomatoes.
The Mediterranean is still the healthiest diet in the world, and uses a lot of oil –so it can’t be that bad! Adding glugs of oil to your pasta sauce will make it taste “luscious and delicious”.
…or salt for that matter
Another thing many of us are increasingly scared of is salt. However, it’s necessary for cooking the perfect pasta.
Cooking pasta in plain water won’t work. Think of boiling the pasta in sea water, more or less. And you needn’t worry – this is just to help with the cooking, the salt won’t end up on your plate.
Even though you should be glugging oil into your sauce, don’t bother splashing it into your pot an old wives’ tale which supposedly stops your pasta from sticking. The oil will just sit on the top, it doesn’t do anything for the pasta.