- Pasta is my friend.
- Pasta is my friend.
- Pasta should NEVER be cooked for more than EIGHT MINUTES!
- Thou shall not over cook the pasta until it can be sucked through a straw.
- Thou shall not snap the spaghetti/linguine/angel hair in half. This makes you a moron and Italians will LAUGH AT YOU.
- Thou shall not put Velveeta on any pasta. It's not sacrilegious, it just has no flavor and thus no point it adding it.
- Thou shall not oil thy boiling water unless you want your sauce to slide right off the spaghetti.
- And the most important: Thou shall NOT CALL IT NOODLES! That's Chinese food you arrogant twit and if you want Chinese, than make dumplings or lo mien but when you're in MY damn kitchen you'll call it PASTA and LIKE it!
Step 1: Choose your pasta.
Very important! If you use dry pasta or fresh pasta there is a big difference in timing. Fresh pasta, which you can identify as not being in a box on the supermarket shelf, but lovingly shaped, surrounded by semolina and handed to you in a white box by a little old lady, needs only 3 - 5 minutes to be done, sometimes less. Dry pasta takes no more than 8 minutes from a rolling boil. Why only 8 minutes when the box says 10? Because after you dump it into a colander into the sink, it doesn't magically become room temperature. It needs to cool down and while it's venting heat it's still cooking, albeit much more slowly. This part of the tour we'll deal with dry pasta since that's what most people handle.
Step 2: Choose your shape.
8 minutes is the default for anything that looks like spaghetti. Pastas have fancy names and shapes but guess what, regardless of what my husband thinks, it all tastes the same. However, the textures are different and what may work well with a fettuccine sauce, may not mesh too well with a primavera setting. Rigatoni, Ziti, and any other tube shaped pasta may take more or less time than 8 minutes. Ravioli and those little pastas like Farfalle (bow ties) or the elbows, take less time because they are smaller. Figure out what you want and lets go.
Step 3: The Rolling Boil
See aren't you glad I taught you how to boil water first? It makes things so much easier. If you skipped that part of the lesson then go back and read it instead of faffing about. I don't repeat myself, not even for my loved ones, and I'm not starting now. After you get your water to a rolling boil add your pasta, without breaking it, and give it a bit of a stir. You'll see it soften up pretty quickly. If the water gets to frothy and starts to threaten to boil over, turn the heat down a bit but make sure you have enough of a hard boil to get the job done.
And for the love of god, time the pasta. You don't want to go to all this trouble to get cat food.
Step 4: No Drain, No Pain?
Ok, that was bad. Don't worry I got a sound thrashing from hubby and brother dear for that one. I hope common sense told you that you should really have a colander (bowl with holes in it) to drain this bad boy into. No? Well you know now. If you don't have one then slowly pour out the water into the sink. Try not to tip the pasta into the sink, unless you just cleaned it (WITH BLEACH!) and don't mind it being in there. Did I mention the sink should be clean AND empty? .....
Step 5: Top Me Off – The Sauce and You
Wine goes in a glass next to the plate of pasta (optional). On the pasta you can pretty much put anything. I'll have a session on tomato sauce later and link it back here. Sometimes when I'm lazy or just damn tired I'll grab a jar of sauce and pop it open. It's good enough and if you experiment with different kinds of jarred sauces you'll find a set that works for you.