This is a very comprehensive video from The Pasta Channel on how to recognize quality pasta, what to look for, how to cook it, etc. She also includes a bonus linguini with aglio olio recipe (oil and garlic) that you can also find below. Great stuff! I've listed Giuliana's key points below for you to share or save along with additional resources and video links. Enjoy!
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- Look for the label: "Made with Bronze Plates" for pasta that has a rough, porous, sandpaper-like texture (sauce clings to it better.)
- Imported Italian is best.
- If you want whole wheat pasta, find one that is milled very fine so it "eats" like a semolina.
HOW TO COOK PASTA AL DENTE
- Use a really large pot with a lid. The more water, the better!
TIP: Don't add oil to pasta water! It prevents the sauce from adhering properly.
- Start with cold water. Once the water is boiling hard, add a heaping tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Make sure water is at a rolling boil, not just bubbling gently.
TIP: do not add salt to cold water, wait until it is boiling.
- Stir gently to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Put the lid back on and bring the water back to a boil. Watch to make sure it doesn't boil over.
- Once boiling nicely, stir pasta well and leave the lid off to finish cooking. Start the timer once the water has come back to a boil. Stir occasionally.
- Start tasting the pasta well before the timer goes off. Continue tasting until it is "almost" perfect. It should be al dente, or slightly firm but cooked through.
- Reserve a cup of the cooking water to help smooth out your sauce.
TIP: pasta continues to cook while you drain it and add the sauce so be careful not to overcook it!
- Drain pasta in a colander but allow it to hold some water.
TIP: Do not rinse the pasta. The pasta needs the starchy water to work best!
- Add drained pasta directly to saucepan. Stir well to coat. Add in a bit of the reserved pasta water to smooth out your sauce if needed.
- Transfer to serving dish, garnish and serve immediately.
Pasta with Aglio Olio Recipe
- Heat 1/2 cup or so of quality olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. You want the oil hot but not smoking.
- Add 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, to the oil.
- Add 2 red chili peppers, chopped.
- Cook together, stirring occasionally until fragrant. You can remove the garlic before adding the pasta.
- Add the drained pasta directly to the hot saucepan. Mix well to coat and allow to heat through for about a minute or so. Add fresh chilis if you want more heat. (optional: add fresh herbs such as flat-leaf Italian parsley and basil, even mint to taste) Garnish with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.(with 1 lb. of pasta, this will serve 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch, 8 as a side)