Pasta may be a staple dish in Italy, but the whole world loves the taste of these simple-to-prepare Italian noodles. Data collected from at least 17 countries points out that pasta is their favourite food. Countries like Brazil, Guatemala, Philippines, and South Africa featured high on this list. However, it was Venezuela that came in the second spot, after Italy as one of the largest consumers of the noodles.
Yes, it is easy to cook pasta but, like all other simple things in life, you need to strive hard to make it with perfection. Various studies undertaken in this context reveal that the cooking time of pasta directly affects the quality of the pasta served, in terms of taste and nutritional values. When pasta is not made in a perfect way, it can taste awful; not to forget that the texture goes limp when overcooked. When undercooked, be ready to make your teeth and gum work overtime to chew the pasta noodles.
An important point to keep in mind while cooking pasta is that it needs to be cooked ‘al dente’ which means ‘to the bite’. Hence, if you wish to present a tasty serving of pasta to your folks, you need to make sure that it is cooked just right – not too hard, not too soft; just right for a bite!
It is not just the taste aspect of pasta which should be kept in mind while cooking it, health is an important pointer too. Research points out that if the pasta is overcooked or boiled for a longer period
- The Glycaemic Index (GI) increases as a result of which it gets digested and absorbed faster than the al dente state.
- This leads to increased sugar levels in the blood.
- The pasta loses its nutritional value – lowers essential Vitamins and amino acids.
Guide to making the perfect pasta
Since taste and nutritional values are two important aspects of cooking, you would certainly want to cook pasta the right way to serve a perfect serving. This guide attempts at explaining each step so that you do not compromise on the quality of pasta.
- Pasta sauce
- The first rule of the thumb to cook the perfect pasta is to use a large cooking utensil. This is to give the pasta noodles enough space to move around. The typical size considered suitable for cooking pasta is to use a utensil that is at least 6 to 8 quarts in capacity (minimum 5.68 liters)
- The second important aspect of cooking pasta the right way is to add a large quantity of water to the pot. The reason being that pasta noodles – small, big or medium – absorb water when they are being cooked, and they need a lot of water to cook well. The rule of the thumb is to use at least four quartz or about 3.79 liters of water for one pound (16 ounces) or a quarter kilogram of dry pasta.
- Use only cold water in the pot and ensure that you use filtered or RO water and not the tap water directly for it may contain impurities that will diminish the taste and nutritional value of the pasta.
- Before adding the pasta noodles to the water, ensure that the water comes to a full boil. You could cover the pot partially with a lid to get to the boiling state faster.
- The first thing when the water boils is to add salt. Salt is essential to give a boost to the flavours of the pasta. Chefs suggest that the water should taste like seawater after adding the salt. Means – you need to add a good amount of salt. You will need one tablespoon of salt for every quarter or .95 liters of water. So, if you have poured four quarts of water in the pot, you need to add four tablespoons of salt to it, after the boil.
- As the water boils with those vigorous big bubbles, add the pasta. Do not break it. Remember, the texture of the pasta will depend a lot on this step. Be careful while performing this step.
- The pasta softens within a matter of a few seconds, and the noodles settle down in the pot.
- This is another crucial step in the process and needs to be done with thoroughness. Stir the pasta with tongs so that the strands do not stick to one another or with the pot.
- Typically, the cooking time will be mentioned on the packaging of the pasta box. Wait till the water starts to boil again. Keep a check on how the pasta looks as it gets cooked. You can follow the timing mentioned on the box, or you can keep tasting by picking a strand of noodle.
- If you need to serve hot pasta, then the suggestion is to take the pasta out for about three to four minutes before the time mentioned on the package. Drain the pasta; put the pasta back into the cooking pot and add the sauce and serve piping hot. Keep a little of the strained water to add to the sauce before it is added to the pasta for better taste and looks.