If you ask the chefs in any Italian restaurant across Canada, what are the top three dishes they prepare on a daily basis? There is a good chance that at least one if not two or all three are pasta dishes. Even though boiling pasta at home is fairly simple, not everyone can prepare such amazing flavored pasta at home. This doesn’t mean that everyone can’t, it’s just that most people do not know the ways to make pasta taste like it does in a restaurant at home.
Your favourite Italian restaurant may have a secret sauce recipe, but there is no secret behind the technique used for preparing high-quality pasta dishes. You can prepare excellent and delicious pasta at home, as long as you follow some basic steps.
We asked our chef to share these steps with you, which we outline below:
The Ingredients Matter
Even though you can mix any pasta size and shape with any type of sauce, specific types of pasta each lend themselves to matching better with different types of sauces. So, your first assignment is to select the right type of pasta and sauce. If you are going for stubby pasta, you should choose a chunky sauce. A long, skinny noodle is good for a thinner sauce. If you find yourself struggling with choosing the right combination of sauce and pasta or unsure of how to match them, think of the menu at your local Italian restaurant for inspiration.
Let the Water Boil
Foremost, you must avoid using a crowded pot which can prevent your pasta from having enough room to cook. Therefore, you should choose a large pot and fill it with lots of water. Let the water boil for some minutes before adding in the pasta. This is a simple step, that many people skip as they add the pasta in the water at the same time as they put the pot on the stove. This is a big no, no.
Salt the Water
The sauce provides the main shot of flavour for any pasta dish, but salting the water is your way of seasoning the pasta itself and giving it some flavour of its own. If you skip this step, your dish will not develop the full range of flavours you have come to expect from a quality pasta dish.
Add Your Pasta
After boiling the salty water for about 2 or so minutes, the next step is to place your pasta inside the pot. You may want to use a timer for this next step, as you should stir the pasta roughly every 30 seconds so that the pasta doesn’t stick together or burn at the bottom. This also ensures your water doesn’t overflow.
Mix The Sauce Into The Pasta
As your pasta is boiling, heat your sauce in another pot. Once your pasta is soft but still has some firmness, drain the water using a colander (make sure to keep some pasta water aside for later use) and return the past to the pot. Pour the warm sauce over the pasta and add some pasta water to the mixture. This is to ensure the pasta doesn’t absorb all of the moisture from the sauce. Afterward, place the pot back on the stove and let it start cooking again over medium heat. As it cooks, stir it gently for about 2 minutes, plate and enjoy!