As Chefs, we all know how to cook and store pasta. Right? Maybe. There are about as many ways to cook, prepare and store pasta as there are shapes. Here are some things I have found in my journey through the Culinary world of pasta in the Foodservice Industry.
- Always cook pasta in water that is clean, salted and at a rolling boil. (appx. 6 quarts of water per pound of pasta).
- Why 6 quarts of water? If too little water is used, a large amount of starch will inhibit the cooking process and produce a starchy and sticky pasta.
- How salty? The water should taste like seawater. So add approximately 3 tbsp of salt to 6 quarts of water.
- Why a rolling boil? If not, the pasta will stick together and be "gummy".
- Putting oil in the water is not necessary. Why? Oil is used to keep the "foam" at bay that sometimes forms on top of the cooking water. It may also inhibit your great tasting sauces from sticking to your beautifully cooked pasta.
- Stir the pasta constantly for the first minute of cooking, then occasionally thereafter until the pasta reaches the desired doneness. Why? If the pasta is not stirred, it will stick together and may also stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
Serving & Storage -
- Pasta is best served immediately. For this, simply drain, toss into your favorite sauce and serve.
- Pasta usually doubles in size when cooked properly. For hot dishes, this is optimal. For a cold dish such as pasta salad, it is acceptable to slightly overcook pasta so that it has a more tender mouth feel.
Storage before and after cooking
- Dry uncooked pasta should always be stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry area, away from heat and humidity.
- If pasta is to be stored and reheated later, cook slightly less than "al dente", then shock in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly, and chill immediately, then store in an airtight container.
- Cooked pasta for later use does NOT need to be tossed in oil. Why? The typical reheating process of dipping the pasta in boiling water will cause the starches in the pasta to release naturally.
- Cooked pasta should be used as soon as possible. Cooked pasta has a shelf life of no more than 3-5 days. Any longer may result in a sour smelling pasta which obviously has gone bad and should be disposed of immediately.
- Cooked pasta can be frozen. Portion into small plastic bags and seal in an airtight container. Thaw naturally for 24 hours under refrigeration. Force thawing under cold running water may result in unwanted breakage.
Troubleshooting and FAQ's
Q: Why does the water have to be salty?
A: Taste buds need salt to function properly. Even though the sauce may have salt, once the sauce mixes with the unsalted pasta the flavor of the dish falls flat.
Q: Why is the pasta water so foamy?
- Too little cooking water. Use at least 6 quarts (5.7 ltr) of clean water. Any less may result in starch levels in the water being too high.
- You are cooking organic pasta. Organic pastas leach out more starch than other pasta, use at least 8 quarts (7.6 ltr) per pound of pasta.
- You are cooking an Artisan Pasta. Bronze Die extruded pasta has a coarser texture and thus, results in more starch in the water, use more water - at least 8 quarts (7.6 ltr) - per pound of pasta.
Q: How can I tell if pasta is "al dente"?
A: "al dente" means "to the tooth". A soft outer cooked shell with a firm core is the best way to describe this texture. Everyone has a different idea of what "al dente" should be. As long as the pasta is not overcooked (cooked all the way through) or undercooked (gritty or grainy texture) you most likely have achieved the desired doneness.
Q: Is it necessary to rinse pasta after cooking?
A: Yes and No. Rinsing will remove some of the outer starches of the pasta that helps sauce stick, so "No", if you are serving immediately. Yes, if you are cooking pasta to be reheated later or using for pasta salad, as rinsing will stop the cooking process.
Q: Why is this Royal Pasta so delicious?
A: It is made from 100% local Premium California Durum™ Wheat. Premium California Durum™ is an irrigated crop to provide greater consistency in the field, resulting in a more consistent Semolina out of the mill, year after year.