My experiences with pasta

19 Sep

Even though I grew up eating mostly Thai food, I have a soft spot in my [stomach] for the Italian cuisine.  I love the wines, cured meats, cheeses and pastas.  My love for Italian food originated in early 2007 when my best friends and I went to Italy to study for a semester.  We learned about amazing artists like Caravaggio, Bernini and Michelangelo.  And we even learned how to cook Italian food in a farm house in Perugia.  Everything about that experience was so wonderful.  Then, in 2011, my (now) husband and I returned to the eternal city and it just completely re-solidified my love for all things Italia.  Their passion for food and quality of life is just so inspiring.  Not to mention they make the best porchetta I’ve ever had in my life!

Now, I do not consider myself an expert in Italian cooking by any stretch of the imagination.  But I do try my best to recreate some of the fabulous meals I’ve had while abroad (some attempts are better than others). Cooking is all about trying new things, failing and improving.  So here are some things I’ve learned over the years about cooking pasta.

  1. Always boil the pasta in salt water, the salt helps to flavor the pasta before the sauce is added.  But do not add the salt until after the water has already begun to boil.  Salt water boils at a lower temperature than fresh water.
  2. Once the pasta is added, bring the heat of the water down to medium-high so that the pot does not boil over.
  3. The pasta should be stirred regularly in the water so that it cooks evenly and does not stick together.  As a tip, especially for fresh pasta, you can add a little oil to the boiling water.
  4. Before draining the pasta, reserve some of the pasta water.  The starchy water acts as binding agent for the sauce and noodles.
  5. When stirring the pasta, or the sauce, always use a wooden utensil to avoid breaking the pasta and any chemical reactions that may occur with using a metal spoon (especially with tomato sauce).
  6. Pasta does not always have to be buried in a thick meaty sauce to be delicious. Using fresh aromatic ingredients like garlic, basil, fennel, oil, wine and lemon zest makes a delectably light sauce.  Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili peppers is actually considered to be the classic recipe for pasta.
  7. Resist the urge to buy that overly processed powdered parmesan cheese.  Freshly grated cheese can make a world of a difference on any pasta dish.
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