In this blog post, we are going to share with you some tips from the Italians on how to cook pasta like a pro.
Cooking the perfect pasta dish is an art form. And like any artist, you need the right tools and ingredients to create a masterpiece.
Use high quality ingredients.
This may seem obvious, but it bears repeating. If you want your pasta dish to be full of flavor, you need to use high quality ingredients. Start by choosing fresh pasta. Preferably, they should be made with 100% durum wheat semolina and water.
Avoid prepackaged or dried pasta, as it won’t have the same flavor or texture. The same goes for oil. Opt for extra virgin olive oil rather than vegetable oil.
Don’t overcook the pasta.
Another important tip is to be careful not to overcook the pasta. This is a common mistake that many of us make. It is the firmness of the pasta that has made this simple dish so sophisticated and famous around the world. Since they go well with sauce and other garnishes.
Italians like to cook pasta until al dente, which means “to the tooth”. They are soft and hold up well to the sauce. So that they are not pasty.
According to most Italian chefs, the best way to cook pasta is:
- Fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Add salt according to your taste.
- Add pasta to boiling water and stir gently.
- Cook pasta until tender or just al dente. Be careful not to exceed 12 minutes of cooking.
- Drain the pasta in a colander and return it to the pot.
- Add the sauce of your choice to the pasta and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately.
You have successfully cooked the pasta, let’s discover the preparation of the sauce and choose the one that will go perfectly well with the type of cooked pasta.
Use a sauce that complements the pasta.
The type of sauce you use can make or break a dish. It is therefore important to choose one that complements the pasta instead of dominating it. A tomato-based sauce goes well with most pastas like fusilli or penne, while a cream-based sauce works best with more delicate varieties like capellini. According to Italian chef Carlo Middione, for example, if you’re using short, chunky pasta like penne, he recommends a “heavy” sauce like ragù or bolognese. On the other hand, if you’re using long, thin pasta like spaghetti, he recommends a lighter sauce like marinara or Alfredo.
According to Italian chef Carmine Di Santo, there are four essential steps. First, he recommends using high-quality ingredients, like fresh tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil. Second, add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft. Then add the tomato sauce. Be sure to choose a variety that is not too sweet or sour.
The sauce should be cooked slowly over low heat to allow the flavors to develop. Simmer for at least an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Additionally, Di Santo urges cooks to taste the sauce frequently and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Finally, he suggests adding a little of the reserved cooking water to thin the sauce if it gets too thick.
Don’t forget the garnish!
According to Italian chef Carlo Middione, the best toppings are those that complement the pasta on their own. After all, what good is all that delicious pasta if the filling is bland or boring?
If you’re looking to liven up your pasta dish, you can’t go wrong with a few well-chosen toppings. The garnish is what gives the dish its flavor and personality, and it’s what will keep your guests coming back for more. Of course, you can’t just throw anything into your pasta; it has to be something that complements the sauce and other ingredients. But if you get it right, the topping can make all the difference in the world.
When it comes to cheeses, Middione advises sticking to Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. These cheeses have a strong flavor that can stand up to sauce and pasta. And of course, no Italian dish is complete without a hint of fresh herbs. Basil and oregano are classic choices, but feel free to get creative and use other herbs.