Eating pasta at a good restaurant is the best: the noodles always have the ideal chew, they cling so nicely to the sauce, and the dish is seasoned to perfection. Yes, the secret ingredient to restaurant pasta is almost always butter. However, there are ways other than butter (although as you’ll see, butter does help) to make a fantastic plate of pasta at home. Here are five tips to cook pasta like a restaurant pro!
TIP #1: IT ALL STARTS WITH SALTY WATER.
In a medium pot, put your water to a boil and immediately add salt. A lot of salt. This will flavor the pasta, and reduce the amount of salt you need to add to the dish later on. Don’t wait until after the water boils to add salt—in my experience, you want to give the salt ample time to dissolve into the water.
Your pot of water should look a lot like seawater. You may think you’ve added too much salt, but the reality is that you probably haven’t added enough. Remember: most of it will be discarded with the pasta water, anyway.
TIP #2: COOK YOUR SAUCE IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN.
You’ll later be adding the pasta to this saucepan, so make sure it’s big enough. Even if you’re using sauce from a jar, heat it up in the saucepan. Once your pasta is ready, throw it directly into the pan and toss it around. You won’t waste any sauce, and you’ll allow each pasta morsel to get thoroughly coated.
TIP #3: DON’T DRAIN YOUR PASTA WITH A COLANDER.
Use tongs (for long noodles) or a slotted spoon (for all other types) to transfer your pasta directly into the sauce. This will make it easier to later transfer pasta water into your sauce, and save you from doing an extra dish!
TIP #4: ADD SOME PASTA WATER TO YOUR SAUCE.
Since you’ve kept the pasta water, use some of it in your sauce! The starches in this water are what really allow the sauce to cling to the pasta, and they will also help to meld each component of the sauce together.
TIP #5: AND A LITTLE BUTTER, IF YOU WANT.
It’s true: butter makes everything better. You can also use olive oil! The extra fat will make your sauce nice and creamy.
Now your pasta is ready to serve and do so quickly! The best pasta is served right off the stovetop and to the table. Have any tips or hacks for cooking pasta? Share it in the comments below!
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