At first, you may think ‘how hard it can be’? You just boil water, add the pasta, strain the surplus water once they’re ready, and add toppings.
However, there’s much more to a delicious pasta dish than just dumping the spaghetti into the hot water and cooking them for 10 minutes or so.
For those who don’t pay much attention to the prepping process, the end result may be gummy and sticky and bland pasta.
With this in mind, all pasta lovers should know what things should be avoided when prepping this dish and what to focus on.
With these several tips, you’ll be able to make the perfect pasta dish that will nourish your taste buds and impress your dearest ones!
Come on, let’s check out the 5 most common mistakes we tend to make when preparing pasta and what to do instead…
5 Common Mistakes while Cooking Pasta
- Your cooking pot is too small
This is one of the most frequent mistakes when preparing pasta- the reasons are numerous- we may not have a sufficiently big pot or we’re too lazy to fill it up with water and then wait for it to boil.
But, cooking pasta in a small pot means the pasta won’t have enough cooking water. The temperature of the water will drop more than it would in a higher amount of water when you add the pasta.
The pasta will end up sitting in non-boiling water and this will make it clumpy and gummy.
Therefore, unless you’re making a single serving of pasta, fill one big pot with 5 to 6 quarts of water per one pound of pasta.
- You’re forgetting the salt
Pasta needs a lot of salt, even though you don’t ingest all of it. Therefore, add it to the cooking water.
Most of it will stay in the water, yet it will ensure it doesn’t get slimy. However, salt isn’t needed for fresh pasta, only for dried one.
When you cook it without salt, the pasta will have a bland taste.
But, know when to put in the salt- add a tbsp or two when the water has started to boil for perfect pasta flavor and texture.
- Putting the pasta before the water boils
No, no, no! Never do this-you’re ruining the pasta!
This will make it gummy and sticky. The best time to add the pasta is when the water is boiling rapidly.
Stir it in and allow the water to come back to a full boil to avert slimy and clumpy pasta.
- You put cooking oil in the water
Indeed, this is one of the biggest controversies in the world of pasta. A lot of cooks add oil to the cooking water to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
But, if you use sufficient water and stir the pasta enough, this shouldn’t happen.
In fact, adding oil can make the pasta slippery and this won’t allow the sauce to penetrate the pasta as it should.
And, avoid another oil-related practice when cooking your pasta- mixing it with hot oil once it’s cooked. This will also make it slippery and it won’t allow the sauce to adhere properly.
- You’re not stirring it
Once you add the pasta, make sure you stir it all the time- use a wooden spoon or long tongs.
Stirring it will avert them from clumping together and you need to ensure the pasta is moving throughout the water.
This will improve its cooking and won’t make it clumpy.
Other Useful Tips for the Ideally Cooked Pasta
- Choose the right sauce for the pasta- thicker and longer noodles like fettuccine go great with Alfredo sauce, penne or rotini goes best with chunky sauces, rich in veggies, and long and thin noodles like spaghetti or angel hair with garlic and oil or marinara.
- Avoid rinsing pasta after cooking- this will remove the starch which is crucial to holding and absorbing the sauce. It will also remove the pasta’s flavor.
- The only times you’re ‘allowed’ to rinse pasta is when prepping a cold pasta salad or if you won’t be serving it right away and want to prevent it from sticking together.
- The only thing worse than undercooking your pasta is overcooking it- it’s limp, gummy, and falling apart.