14 May Ten tips on how to make better homemade pasta
The truth is that it is not necessary to be an aerospace engineer to make good pasta, but it is necessary to take into account some tips if we want this pasta to go from remarkable to outstanding. During these last years, I have prepared a lot of pasta at home and after people ask me for some advice on how to make good pasta, I leave you with a summary of tricks and take the opportunity to also break some myths that we have in this country when it comes to preparing pasta.
Use a really good pasta, preferably Italian
I always use Barilla pasta or ceco pasta, which are easily found in any supermarket and the difference is very noticeable. Another option is to make the pasta yourself, something that is not complicated at all if you have a homemade pasta maker; and for the lucky ones who live in Madrid, they can always go to the pastaio or the Accademia del gusto to buy fresh pasta. I’m sure there are many other places in other parts of Spain where you can buy fresh “artisan” pasta, not from the supermarket, so if you know of a place that’s worth it, let me know in the comments.
Salt the cooking water
To cook the pasta well, it must always be done in plenty of water. What the writings say is that, at least, you have to put 1 liter of water for every 100g of spaghetti. As for salt, you have to add 10 grams of salt for every 100 grams of pasta. To make it easy to remember I always use this:
Do not put oil in the water
This is a hoax that I don’t know where it came from, but I think we’ve all heard it, and many of us have done it or continue to do it. It is not necessary to add oil to the water so that the spaghetti does not stick. This is surely inherited from some of our mothers’ cooking shows and has been spreading until it seems essential. So save that splash of olive oil for other purposes and don’t waste it in the water.
Calculate the cooking time well
Pasta, like everything in the kitchen, has an exact cooking time. The pasta, for my taste, has to be what the Italians call al dente or, as my father always said as a child, “with the soul inside”, that is, slightly raw on the inside. In addition, according to studies, al dente pasta has a lower glycemic index and is more progressively assimilated into the blood, something highly recommended for those of us who like to run.
The time is usually advised on the packaging. In any case, it is advisable that when the time comes you always taste the pasta to find out if it lacks a bit of cooking or not. Another thing is the stuffed pasta, which we must add before it starts to boil so that it does not break, it also needs much less cooking time, with 3-4 minutes it will be ready. Also, a trick is that the stuffed pasta or the gnocchi rise to the top when they are ready.
Do not refresh the pasta at the end of cooking
This is another one of the things we should be hanged for in this country. Do not put the spaghetti in the water at the end of cooking. That is another of the acquired defects or customs inherited from our mothers, and it is another of the sacrileges that we should not put the pasta through.
Make the sauce before making the pasta
Another of the mantras when making pasta is that we always have to remember to prepare the sauce or the accompaniment that we are going to use first. The sauce has to wait for the pasta and never the other way around. I always cook the sauce and when there is little left, I start to boil the water and leave the sauce to a minimum so that it maintains the temperature, and that’s it.
Use a little of the cooking water to lighten the pasta
A very good trick to lighten some of the sauces such as cacao e Pepe or carbonara is to use a little of the cooking water in the sauce. This water contains the starch from cooking the pasta and is highly recommended for enriching the sauce. Also, being hot, the sauce does not cool you down.
Mix the pasta in a bowl
The correct way to mix the pasta is: to serve it on a tray if you want to mix all the pasta at once, or on a plate with the sauce on top. This is done like this so that you can see that the pasta is freshly made and not overheated, and you will see how in good restaurants they give it to you like this. Other times, and in some pasta, the pasta is mixed in the pan in which the sauce has been prepared. If you use a platter, they recommend making it slightly warm so it doesn’t get cold before serving.
Use the correct pasta for each type of sauce
This seems silly, it is not at all. In Italy, each pasta is from an area and each pasta has an accompanying sauce, and they don’t usually mix much, except in some very generic sauces. So if you want to make pasta, first find out which type of pasta works best for you. I often look for the recipe in Italian or I look for the Italian description on Wikipedia, where it usually tells you which pasta goes well with each sauce.
Use a suitable accompaniment
Once we have the pasta on the plate, now we can season it with something. We usually use Parmesan, Grana Padano, or, in some cases, Pecorino cheese. As general rules, pasta containing tomato is seasoned with cheese, and it must be borne in mind that Parmesan should never be added to a pasta containing fish. That is a sacrilege for the Italians. In that case, you can season it with little breadcrumbs.
Well, these are some of the tips that I have been able to compile from my own experiences and various readings in books and on the internet. I would appreciate it if you know of any other tips or if there is something I am confused about, please let me know so I can include or fix it.
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