Somewhere along the line I picked up a few bad habits when it come to cooking pasta. Luckily a Barilla pasta class set me straight with the Ten Golden Rules of Pasta.
Pasta is Pasta
Wrong. All pasta isn’t the same. The quality of the pasta depends on the quality of the ingredients. A simple cooking test will tell you. If the water doesn’t froth intensely when boiled, remains clear after cooking and the pasta’s golden, you’re on to a winner.
Water, Water, Water
Most people don’t use a big enough pot and enough water. The rule is one litre per 100 grams of pasta.
Salted water helps flavour the pasta as it absorbs liquid and swells. Add 10 grams of salt per one litre of water.
Oil And Water Don’t Mix
With premium quality pasta – such as Barilla – there’s no need to add oil. It will just coat the pasta causing the sauce to slide off rather than bind. Poor quality pasta can require oil to combat the amount of sticky starch released when cooking.
Again, if working with a quality pasta there is no need to rinse. Only a small amount of starch is released during cooking, so the pasta doesn’t stick together. Rinsing in fact removes the pasta’s light starch coating which is important for holding the sauce.
Pasta Is Fattening
Dry pasta contains carbohydrates but no fats are added to the dough so the total fat in dry pasta is minimal. The sauce you add is another matter. If it’s rich and creamy then this will contribute significantly to the fat and calorific content of the dish.
Pasta Is Difficult To Digest
Pasta is digested differently to other carbohydrates. That’s because pasta is high in complex carbohydrates which provide a slow release of energy. The carbohydrates become glucose stored in the muscles, which is then released when required.
Pasta should be cooked ‘al dente’. Quite literally this means ‘to the tooth’ or slightly firm to the bite. Ideally it should be tasted from the pot and finished in a frypan combining the sauce over heat. One of the benefits of ‘al dente’ pasta is to encourage chewing as this aid in the digestive process.
The Better The Pasta The Less Sauce
Italians use less sauce than we do. That’s because they want to taste the pasta as well as the sauce. So if it’s good pasta don’t drown it. The general rule is to use as much sauce as pasta. However, pesto sauce should be used as a simple garnish.
In Italy there are over 300 types of pasta, often the signature dish of a particular region. Different shapes suit different sauces. For instance short pasta like Penne goes with chunky meat and vegetable sauces. Fettuccine or Pappardelle suit rich creamy sauces and Bucatini and Cannelloni are ideal for baking.
- Pasta Is Made From Flour
Better pasta is in fact made from semolina which is produced by grinding kernels of durum wheat. Barilla pasta, for example, is made from 100% high grade durum wheat.
With thanks to Barilla