When I was younger, I had different variations of spaghetti. My uncle always made it with sliced hot dogs and as gross as that sounds, I liked it! On the other hand, my mother always made it with ground beef. As time progressed, the ground beef became meatballs with some tiny cut veggies hidden in the sauce (a loving mother’s sneaky way of getting her kids to eat vegetables). However, as I grew up and started learning more about the culinary world, I came to the realization that they had both been making the pasta wrong all these years.
Well, not wrong per se, but different from how chefs of the gourmet world cook it. The key word being al dente – which is an Italian phrase meaning to the tooth. In other words, the pasta is neither soft or overcooked, but prepared in a way so that it still has a firm bite to it. My mother and uncle always made it a tad softer than al dente, but it’s only a matter of opinion and preference how one cooks it. Personally, I think either way is good because you can’t go wrong with pasta (unless it turns into mushy goop).
Here’s a tip to cooking pasta – salt the boiled water before putting in the uncooked pasta. It’s important to do this because it helps flavour the pasta. That way, when the water absorbs into the pasta so does the salt.
Here’s another tip (though this one is up for debate) – rinsing the pasta once it’s cooked. Some people say you shouldn’t and others say you should. From what I know, you shouldn’t rinse it if you are making a dish with sauce because you want to retain the starch on the pasta. This will help the sauce adhere to the pasta more, making it more tasty. However, there are some cases where you wouldn’t want this extra starch. For example, if you are making a pasta salad or even using it in a type of stir fry dish, it may be better to rinse it because it will remove the excess starch and stickiness. The last thing you would want to serve is pasta clumps!
Recently, I decided to make a simple dish of spaghetti using farfalle pasta (shown above) and chopped veggies. However, waiting for water to boil is as fun as watching paint dry so I had a silly moment and made this for you guys. 🙂
As the Italians say, buon appetito!