Five Tips for Perfect Pasta
Serving a perfect plate of al dente pasta is not as easy as it seems - unless of course you are in on some useful tips. Here are five of Mary Ann's favorites that will guarantee success every time:
1) Use a pasta pot with an insert for easier draining and always start with 4 to 6 quarts of water to allow the pasta to expand properly.
2) Pasta is cooked when you can break a long strand or short cut in half and see that no white flour is visible in the center.
3) Some people add oil to the cooking water to keep the pasta from sticking together. This is a bad idea. The oil coats the pasta, making it harder for sauces to adhere. If you follow rule #1, you won't have to worry about the pasta sticking together anyway.
4) Short cuts of pasta such as ziti, penne, and fusilli are best served with chunky-style sauces. Use lighter sauces, such as garlic and olive oil or butter and cheese, for thinner types of pasta such as linguine or fettuccine.
5) Cooked pasta for oven-baked casseroles should be undercooked and still firm when added to the rest of the ingredients because it will finish cooking in the oven. Reduce the pasta boiling time by four minutes for casseroles.