September 22nd, 2011

{sponsored} How To Cook—and Pre-Cook—Perfect Pasta


Photo: Brown Buttered Cauliflower Pasta

The Barilla Summer of Italy celebration has come to an end, but fret not. Our friends at Barilla, led by their venerable Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni, have left us with a parting gift better than a bottle of wine or mini-muffins for the morning after. No tchotchkes here.

Our gift from Barilla is simple, clear instructions on how to cook—and precook—perfect pasta.

These instructions, which I’m so excited to share with you, are an indispensable how-to for every family cook.

I learned the following at my Barilla Simple, Healthy Italian Pasta class taught by Chef Boni at Eataly. Chef Boni kicked off class by encouraging us to cook to our taste—”adjust the recipe, add more of what you like,” he urged—but also to adhere to technique when it comes to fundamentals like cooking pasta.

This man is serious about cooking pasta. And now you will be, too.

How to Cook Perfect (Dried) Pasta

1. Bring a large stockpot, ideally one with a perforated insert, of heavily salted water to a full rolling boil. Use 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 gallon of water per 1 pound of pasta (you can reduce the salt if necessary for healthy reasons). DO NOT add oil to the water.

2. Add pasta, stir, then begin measuring cooking time. Cook pasta 2-3 minutes fewer than indicated on the package.

3. Drain. If using a pot with a perforated insert, pull the insert out and leave the pot with the cooking water on the stove. Otherwise, scoop the pasta out of the pot with a perforated pasta scoop (like this one, which I use). If you don’t have a pasta insert or scoop, pour a bunch of the cooking water into a bowl before draining the pasta. The goal is to reserve a good deal of pasta cooking water.

Do not rinse the pasta!

4. Make sure that your sauce is in a large skillet and, once hot, add the freshly cooked/drained pasta. If you’re scooping the pasta directly from the water into the skillet, allow some of the cooking water to drip into the skillet, too.

5. Toss pasta to coat and then add 1-2 ladles of cooking water (depending on the thickness of your sauce and how much water’s already made it into the skillet). Toss more to bring all of the flavors together. Take sauced pasta off of the heat before adding cheese and finishing with a drizzle of high quality olive oil.

How to Pre-Cook Perfect (Dried) Pasta

1. Bring a large stockpot, ideally one with a perforated insert, of heavily salted water to a full rolling boil. Use 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 gallon of water per 1 pound of pasta (you can reduce the salt if necessary for healthy reasons). DO NOT add oil to the water.

2. Add pasta, stir, then begin measuring cooking time. Cook pasta for half of the time indicated on the package.

3. Drain the pasta completely of water, making sure to reserve the cooking water for later use.

Do not rinse the pasta!

4. Drizzle the pasta with a tiny bit of olive oil, 1-2 teaspoons per pound of pasta. Toss to coat and spread the pasta on a sheet pan to cool.

5. Once completely cooled, put pasta in an airtight container or ziplock bag for storage in the fridge. The pasta will stay good for a few days.

6. To reheat: If possible, keep your sauce a little runny. Place sauce in a large skillet and, once hot, add pasta. Toss to coat and then add one or two ladles of reserved cooking water (less for runny sauces, more for thick ones). Toss more to bring the flavors together and heat pasta through. Take sauced pasta off of the heat before adding cheese and finishing with a drizzle of high quality olive oil.

To reheat a large amount of pasta (over 1 lb): Dunk pre-cooked pasta in boiling water for 30 seconds before placing in a skillet with hot sauce.

Brilliant! I’ve been pre-cooking Barilla Piccolini Pasta with Veggies like cray-zy. (Have I mentioned how obsessed I am with the Piccolini line of pastas?)

Thank you Barilla and Chef Boni for saving the day. Or at least for saving our pasta (which is pretty much saving the day, if you ask me).

Grazie mille.
Xox

Grazie Barilla

This post has been sponsored by the good folks at Barilla, with whom I have entered a paid partnership. They have hired me to help raise awareness of the special events happening in NYC as part of their Summer of Italy. I’m attending events personally so that I can share my experiences with you and all opinions are strictly my own. Read more about One Hungry Mama and sponsorships here.

3 Responses

  1. Miri Leigh says:

    Looks delicious and perfect for tonight’s dinner :)

  2. Great tips, yes everyday is just about pasta day at my house, I love it!

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