When I was younger, I didn’t understand the point of boiling things properly. I just threw the pasta in with the water and brought it to a boil that way. Now that I’m older and more experienced, I can see (and taste!) the difference. Sure, I still sometimes forget and put the pasta in a little prematurely…but for the most part, I’ve become far more patient. For the rest of you, Jessica from Army Wife to Suburban Life is here to discuss a few tricks for making her favorite pasta.
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We didn’t have eggs, bagels, or cereal; we had pasta for breakfast. Since pasta carbonara has eggs and bacon in it, it still counts as a traditional breakfast item, right? Dottie spilled her entire first bowl on the floor. Our dog, George really enjoyed it. My favorite thing about pasta carbonara is I can make it from start to finish in 20 minutes. If you want to have an more authentic carbonara use chopped pancetta instead of bacon. This morning I preferred the larger pieces of bacon over the tiny cubes of pancetta in the freezer. I always like to add something green to a finished pasta dish. Since we don’t have any fresh herbs on hand, I went into the freezer and pulled out some preserved garlic chives from the garden. I never go without fresh herbs, even in the dead of winter. Anyone can make pasta carbonara, however, making extraordinary pasta carbonara takes a few tricks.
Making perfect pasta every time is easy if you remember these little tips.
- Start with really good pasta. Even though I’m a thrifty shopper I will never compromise the quality of pasta, or any other main ingredient in a dish. I love deCecco pasta, it’s taste and texture is superior to any other brand I’ve tried. Your food will only be as good as it’s ingredients. Tweet this.
- Save your Parmesan rind. In addition to salt, season your pasta water with leftover Parmesan rinds. I heard on the radio that you can give them to your dog too. I guess cheese rinds are supposed to be good for them?
- Thoroughly salt your water. It should taste like ocean water. A little pinch will not do.
- Stir your pasta within the first 30 seconds of cooking. Unless you want one sticky pasta glob, be sure it give each strand a fighting chance and stir every 3-4 minutes.
- Never drain your pasta without saving some pasta water. This starchy water binds the pasta to the sauce, and keeps your pasta dish from drying out.
- If it’s not al dente, it’s overcooked. Pasta is supposed to be cooked until it has a little bite or al dente, “to the tooth.” The pasta is supposed to finish cooking in the sauce. Pasta carbonara is the exception to this rule. If we finish cooking pasta in the sauce we will end up with scrambled eggs!
Once I started adding Parmesan rinds and more salt to the water, I noticed an instant improvement in the flavor of my food. While I love going out to restaurants, following these little tips gives us a heightened dining experience and saves us money. If I could wear pajamas in public, I wouldn’t try so hard at making good food at home. The truth is I have a hard time getting out when it’s below sixty five degrees. Remember the pasta tips I shared for every Italian dish. Don’t miss the bonus at the bottom of the post.
You’ll find another picture below this paragraph. The stark white background of the photo camouflages it into the site. I’ll remember that next time!
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I’m curious why the water is always salted when cooking pasta. Salt changes the boiling point of water… Does anyone know what the purpose is?
I never put salt in my water when I boil it and I’ve never been able to figure out why so many people do it, either. Old wives’ tales say it boils faster, but that’s not true. Like you said, salt DOES change the boiling point of water–it makes it higher, so it takes LONGER to boil. I can see how this would be good for meat, because cooking it more slowly will make it more tender (not that salt changes it THAT drastically). However, pasta should boil as quickly as possible or it will turn to mush.
I just thought it had something to do with the taste 😛
Maybe it does! That would make more sense.
Aha! Mystery solved! 🙂
I add pasta to boiling water, so perhaps that’s why I didn’t notice a difference?
You add salt to season the pasta itself. Seasoned pasta tastes much better than a layer of salt on top (in the sauce.)
That makes sense. Thanks for explaining, Jessica! 🙂
Hi! I looked it up because I’m not so sure I care for the typical answers I was familiar with. First, seasoning a huge pot of boiling water with a pinch or teaspoon of salt should not add much flavor to the pasta. I doubt you’d even be able to detect much salt in the water!
Second, raising the boiling point of the water, as you guys already said, doesn’t really account for it, either. You’d need large amounts to have any significant impact on the boiling point, to the tune of around 3 tablespoons of salt in 8 cups of water to raise the boiling point 0.5 degrees.
As it turns out, the most plausible explanation is that the pasta contains proteins that will unfold and cause the strands to stick together. It’s a process called gelation, and it accounts for why you get slimy, sticky pasta. Salt at low concentrations apparently inhibits this. Perhaps something to try and experiment with. Another way of preventing stickiness would be to boil the water first then add the pasta, as opposed to what I do in adding the pasta to cold water that is being heated.
I’ve always loved making pasta, I’ve also loved sitting around and watching the food network for hours. I picked up all these tips along the way & it really does make a difference. Thanks for sharing!
Good to know it works for others, as well! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂