Anyone can make pasta at home, as it’s supposed to be easy. Just follow the instructions on the package, which mostly consists of adding it to a pot of boiling water. And yet, there are many people who end up with bad-tasting pasta. It can be anything from bland to sticky and clumpy. Whether you realise them or not, here are the 7 Mistakes You Might Make When Cooking Pasta (and yes, how to avoid them in the future).
1) You Are Using A Small Pot
Be it a small or large amount of pasta, it’s always best to go for a bigger pot. Here’s why: If you use a small pot to cook your pasta, the small amount of water causes the temperature to drop significantly. This, in turn, takes a longer time for the water in the pot to return to a boiling state. Non-boiling water also ends up with your pasta sitting at the bottom of the pot, causing it to become all mushy and clumpy. Let’s not forget that lesser water means you’ll get sticky pasta, thanks to the higher ratio of starch.
2) You Are Neglecting To Salt The Water
Simply cooking the pasta with a pot of boiling water isn’t going to cut it. Which is why it’s important to add salt upon cooking the pasta. Not only does salt improve the otherwise plain-tasting pasta but also gives it a better texture. Another reason? Salt helps to prevent the cooking pasta in the pot from becoming “slimy”. So, the next time your pot reaches to a boil, always remember to add in one or two tablespoons of salt.
3) You Add Oil To Your Water
You might have read or seen a YouTube video from somewhere that olive oil can prevent the pasta from sticking together during the cooking process. Well, the truth is, oil and water do not mix. Which means it separates and is left floating atop the water instead. And that is not all, as adding oil to the water can prevent the sauce from sticking to the pasta after you drain it.
4) You Leave Out The Stirring Part
Thinking that leaving the pasta to cook by itself inside the pot of boiling water is fine? Well, big mistake. Doing so can cause your pasta to clump and stick together. Which is why it’s crucial to stir the cooking pasta every now and then. Stirring the pasta also helps to ensure that each strand is able to cook evenly.
5) You Didn’t Save Some Pasta Water
Here’s an age-old ingredient that everyone should know when it comes to making a pasta dish. And that ingredient in question happens to be pasta water. If you simply drain all the water from the pot after cooking the pasta, you’re making a huge mistake. Always save some pasta water (about a cup will do). Pasta water contains all the salt and starch in the liquid, which would make an excellent thickening agent upon adding it to your cooked pasta and the sauce in the pan. Both the salt and starch helps to add that silky texture to the sauce and even makes it flavourful.
6) You Rinse Pasta With Water
Here’s a rookie mistake that some people might do after cooking the pasta. They end up rinsing it with running tap water. If you do so, you are basically removing the natural starch of the pasta. The lack of starchiness can cause the cooked pasta to be unable to cling to the sauce in the pan. So, never rinse the pasta other than just draining them in a colander and add to your sauce.
7) You Either Overcook Or Undercook The Pasta
Overcooking your pasta means you’ll be getting the kind of mushy taste, which makes you want to toss it in the bin. Undercooking isn’t a good idea either as it becomes tough and overly chewy. While following the direction of how long you should cook your pasta from a store-bought packet or box is the right thing to do, nothing really beats the taste test. That means you will have to taste the cooking pasta to make sure if it’s slightly firm or commonly known as al dente. You can simply try a strand by using a fork.