Why can’t you cook good pasta? Are the ingredients?
Not really, but they are 🙂
To cook Italian Pasta, there are some small steps to follow:
1. Water: a large amount of water is needed to cook Italian pasta, the most common mistake is to put too little water. The ideal is to put 2 liters per 100 grams, 3 liters per 300 grams and so on! Better more than less, the starch must come out of the dough, otherwise we will get the gum/chewingum effect.
2. Pot: must be narrow and tall, not short and wide like the Wok!
3. Salt: the salt, more or less a handful and must be added when the water boils. This is the hardest part, because the risk is to have too salty or tasteless pasta. I prefer to feel the salt, because without salt it tastes like nothing!
4. Quantity: 80/100 grams per person.
5. Type: durum wheat semolina is the most classic, then there is the egg one, ideal for tagliatelle, lasagna and cannelloni. Pay attention to the quality of the egg, prefer the organic type.
6. The shape: for tomato sauce, the best pasta is the one that “holds” the sauce, that is, it has a slightly rough and irregular surface. Instead of the “drier” sauces, the most recommended type is pasta called Penne or Pipe. Some types of pasta have their own way of being associated with the sauce, otherwise the result will not be the same! For example: for Pasta alla Carbonara, it is tradition in Italy to use only spaghetti!
For Italians, pasta is a “main dish” and not a side dish!
7. The brand: Italian pasta is definitely made from durum wheat semolina. The famous Barilla is not as good as you think. Di Cecco, Molise and Garofalo have a much higher quality.
8. The procedure: put the pasta on and add salt only after the water boils, not before! First you wait for the water to boil, then you add the salt and then you add the pasta.
9. Cooking: the most common mistake is cooking time! If it is written on the package for 12 minutes, it should be cooked for 12 minutes, not 13! Pasta “scotta” (ie cooked for a long time, too soft) is unacceptable for an Italian ! Instead “al dente” is cooked one/two minutes less. The right cooking time is when we can cut it with our teeth, cutting it without breaking, without the gum effect! In order not to miss the cooking time, use a timer! Never overcook it, if in doubt it is always better to cook it less.
Cooking water is one of the secrets! Almost all Italian recipes require a couple of tablespoons of cooking water in the sauce recipe, because the starch helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Don’t add too much, however, or the sauce will be watery!
10. After cooking: drain all the water, add the sauce and serve immediately. Do not leave the pasta to soak in hot water and do not wait 10 minutes to eat it, because the pasta continues to cook even outside the pan!
The Italian doesn’t put ketchup on pasta!
11. The sauce: if the recipe calls for cooking the sauce with the pasta (as in the case of Carbonara), then the pasta should be cooked one/two minutes less, that is, al dente. “Mutti” is a good brand of tomato pulp to use for sauces, and it is a brand that is easily found abroad. A tip: Chicken is never used in original italian recipes!
In the case of Pesto alla Genovese, the Pesto must be heated separately, so that when the pasta is ready, the sauce is already hot.
12. Oil or butter? It depends on the type of recipe, but in most cases “Italian extra virgin olive oil” is used (never use regular oil). A tip: The original Italian extra virgin olive oil is healthy, the bad ones are unhealthy.