Pasta is one of those dishes that’s easy to make but can be challenging to master. Italian chefs built up their expertise over the generations. But if you’re relatively new to the stuff or you haven’t been trained by a grand master, then it can be tricky to get right.
Fortunately, cooking up the perfect pasta dish is easy, so long as you’ve got the right tips at your disposal. Take a look at these chef-inspired essentials.
Add Mountains of Salt to the Water
When you order linguini from a restaurant, you expect it to be seasoned perfectly and taste delicious. And when it arrives, it usually is. However, when you get home and try to recreate the intense flavors yourself, your efforts fall short. Why?
One of the things that chefs do is use a mountain of salt when they cook their pasta. You might think that a couple of grinds of the salt mill in the boiling water will suffice, but very little of that salt will ever make its way into the pasta. Professionals, therefore, use around a tablespoon of salt to flavor the water. Ideally, the water should taste like the sea.
I’ll admit, in my effort to reduce salt in my diet, I stopped using salt in the boiling water. Boy, what a difference it made! I’ve gone back to adding it to the water and reducing salt in other areas of my cooking.
Chop Your Veggies Finely
The perfect pasta recipe is one where the sauce does the majority of the talking. But if you’ve got big chunks of pepper or mushroom sticking out, then it can ruin the appeal of the dish. The first thing you’ll need to chop your veggies finely is the right knife. If you don’t have a decent set of chef’s knives, look out for a Kamikoto giveaway and save yourself a bit of money in the process. Next, proceed to the chopping board and chop your mushrooms, chilis, peppers, onions and garlic as finely as you can using your best knife skills. Saute them in the pan until they are soft before adding your pasta. You should find that when you do it this way around, your veggies stick to your noodles, creating the perfect ensemble.
Add Your Pasta to Your Sauce – Not The Other Way Around
Professional pasta chefs cook the pasta until it is al dente (nearly cooked) and then add it to the sauce to finish it off. The reason they do this is so that the starches in the pasta can become incorporated into the sauce, giving it a richer, more luxurious texture.
Add Pasta Water To The Sauce
Chefs will also add a couple of tablespoons of the starchy pasta water to the sauce itself. Again, this is so that the glutinous starches can bind with the vegetable ingredients to make them more gelatinous, helping them stick to the noodles. The last thing you want is to add the sauce and a large puddle to appear at the bottom of your bowl.
Try Adding A Bit Of Fat
You might think that the idea of adding tahini or cashew paste to your pasta is a little strange. But it turns out that adding some fat is the perfect way to bring starchy noodles and watery vegetable sauces together. Fat helps make the pasta rich and decadent.
So give these tips a try and let me know how you fare in a commment below!