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December 2, 2020
Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta

Let’s not lie. Everyone has their own way of how they want to cook their pasta. You see, some people prefer it al dente, others want it more boiled… Some want it quite salty, while some do not add salt to the water and let the sauce do the job. There are those who add olive oil to it, and others who avoid doing so. In general, the ways in which one can prepare his pasta are countless. In the following lines, I have chosen to present you -after many tests- 9 different ways, without omitting -of course- to mention my favorite one. But before we start analyzing them, we have to keep some simple, basic, and useful things in mind. What are these?

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

The water: You should calculate about 2 liters of water for every 300 g of pasta. So, pour the water into a pot (the size of which depends on the amount of pasta you want to make) and wait for it to boil before adding your pasta.

Salting the water: Many people salt the water as soon as they add it into the pot. Others prefer to wait for it to boil. In any case, the salt should be added to the water before the pasta, since this way your pasta will be able to get some of its taste. How much salt is enough? This depends on your tastes, but also on your eating habits (if one is forbidden to consume salt in his food, he simply skips this step). In general, you can estimate that you will need about 5-10 g of salt per liter of water. As for which salt is the best… Whichever you choose, it will do its job. It’s just that the coarse salt will give us a much tastier result.

The stirring: It is one of the most basic steps in the process. It is very important, therefore, when you add your pasta in the boiling water to stir it right away, for about 1-2 minutes. This way, your pasta will not stick together. Some people choose to add a little oil to the water while the pasta is boiling. This oil, however, rises to the surface and does not actually work well with the pasta.

The boiling time: That, as we said above, depends on how "al dente" or softer you want your pasta to be. Be that as it may, always boil your pasta with the pot uncovered, and make sure to follow the listed cooking times of each package, adding (if you want) more minutes for a less "al dente" result. The cooking time may vary from brand to brand, but also from pasta to pasta. In any case, you can always try and come up with the time that best suits your tastes.

The draining and rinsing: In case you want to add your pasta directly into the sauce, you don’t need to strain it. You can simply remove it from the pot with a slotted spoon or a pair of tongs and add it directly into the sauce. Now, if you want it to boil a little in the sauce, make sure to remove the pasta from the pot where it boils about 2-3 minutes before the end of the cooking time and to finish cooking it in the sauce. Now, in case you want to strain your pasta and then serve it with the sauce, simply strain it using a colander. But beware! It is very important NOT to rinse your pasta for two main reasons (apart from the fact that it will get cold and you will have to reheat it): Firstly, the water will take part of the starch of your pasta and -consequently- of its taste. Secondly, the starch -which helps to bind the sauce (which is why -after the pasta boils- usually, before straining it, we keep a ladleful of water which we add to our sauce to "bind" better) will not exist, resulting in the pasta not holding the sauce as it would if you had not rinsed it.

Adding olive oil: Should you add oil to your pasta or not? Of course, you can add oil to it if this is what you want. Add oil to the pasta and then serve it with your sauce or enjoy it plain with cheese. However, in case you want to pour your pasta into the sauce, you do not need to add oil to it.

And after all these… let's go see in how many different ways we can prepare our pasta…

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#1 BOILED IN WATER + SALT

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of water along with 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait for the water to boil. As soon as the water starts boiling, add 300 g spaghetti, stir and let it boil according to the instructions on the package. When your spaghetti is ready, strain it and serve it plain or with a sauce.

Why we like it: Because it is the simplest - specifically, the basic - way to cook our pasta.

Why we would reconsider: Because, as soon as we strain our spaghetti, we have to add oil to it or serve it immediately since, otherwise, it will stick together.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#2 BOILED IN WATER, OIL + SALT

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of water, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait for the water to boil. Add 300 g spaghetti, stir and let your pasta boil according to the instructions on the package. When your spaghetti is ready, strain it and serve it plain or with a sauce.

Why we like itBecause it is a simple way to cook our pasta. In addition, by using a little oil during cooking, we can be sure that our pasta will not stick together.

Why we would reconsiderIn fact, the oil during cooking does not help to prevent our pasta from sticking together. When we strain the spaghetti, all the oil will be removed and the result we will get will be exactly what we would get if we followed process # 1.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#3 BOILED IN WATER + SALT + OIL

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of water along with 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait for the water to boil. Add 300 g spaghetti, stir and let it boil according to the instructions on the package. When your spaghetti is ready, strain it, add it into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, mix, and serve it plain or with any sauce you like.

Why we like it: Adding oil after cooking helps to prevent our pasta from drying out and sticking together.

Why we would reconsiderThis step could be skipped in case we want to finish cooking our pasta in a sauce.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#4 BOILED IN BROTH

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of chicken broth along with 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait for the water to boil. Add 300 g linguine, stir and let it boil according to the instructions on the package. When your pasta is ready, strain it, add it into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, mix, and serve.

Why we like it: Because our pasta becomes delicious as it absorbs all the flavor from the broth in which it is boiled.

Why we would reconsider: Because we may not have chicken broth at home.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#5 RISOTTO-STYLE COOKED

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of water along with 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait for the water to boil. In a second pot, add 300 g rigatoni and 2 ladlefuls of the boiling water, and bring to a boil until most of the water is absorbed, stirring constantly so that your pasta does not stick together. Then, add another 2 ladlefuls of the water. Wait for this amount of water to be absorbed and continue this process until your pasta is tender, making sure that there is always a little moisture in the pot. At this point, you can add a little butter and a little parmesan cheese, so that the pasta thickens more and looks like risotto. Once it is ready, serve your pasta.

Why we like it: Following the specific cooking method, we do not throw away the excess starch (as we would do if we strained our pasta). The starch, therefore, stays in the pot and helps to make our pasta even thicker.

Why we would reconsider: Because it is a more time-consuming process that requires our constant attention since we have to stir our pasta often so that it does not stick.

Extra Tip: If you choose this cooking method, it would be better to use shorter pasta, so that there is no risk of it breaking and it also makes stirring easier.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#6 SOAKED IN WATER + BOILED  

The process: In a bowl add 300 g fusilli pasta along with 1 liter of water and set aside for 30 minutes. Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of water and 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait until the water boils. Strain your pasta from the water in which you soaked it, add it into the pot, and boil until it is tender. Once your pasta is ready, strain it, transfer to a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, mix, and serve plain or with the sauce of your choice.

Why we like it: Since we soak it, our pasta absorbs enough moisture which helps it boil much faster and become more “al dente”.

Why we would reconsider: Because we would like to follow a faster cooking method that does not involve half an hour of soaking.

Extra Tip: If you want, since your pasta is soaked, you can add it into a sauce and cook it directly in there without boiling it in water beforehand.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#7 BOILED WITH BAKING SODA

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait for the water to boil. Add 300 g spaghetti, stir and let your pasta boil according to the instructions on the package. When your pasta is ready, strain it, add it into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, mix, and serve plain or with any sauce that you like.

Why we like it: Because the addition of baking soda gives our pasta the texture and shape of noodles, while -at the same time- it changes its color making it darker.

Why we would reconsider: Because, once we add the baking soda to the water, we can no longer use it to "thicken" our sauce.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#8 DOUBLE-COOKED

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 2 liters of water along with 1 tablespoon of salt, and wait for the water to boil. Add 300 g spaghetti, stir and let your pasta boil for 3-4 minutes. Then, strain the pasta, add it into a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, mix, and set it aside to cool.

Place the pot back on heat, add water and salt, and once the water boils, pour the pasta in and boil it for 3-4 more minutes, until it is tender.

Why we like it: Because this way, we can have half-cooked pasta in our fridge for 1-2 days and finish cooking it when we want.

Why we would reconsider: Because we would prefer to complete the process right away, in a single step, by boiling the pasta once.

Cooking Crash Test: The most delicious pasta by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis

#9 COLD-WATER COOKED

The process: Place a pot over medium heat, add 300 g farfalle pasta, 2 liters of cold water, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Lower the heat and cook your pasta until tender. Then, strain it, transfer to a bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, mix, and serve plain or with the sauce of your choice.

Why we like it: This way, the water gets more starch, making it ideal to be used as a base in any sauce in order to "bind" it.

Why we would reconsiderIf we choose this particular cooking method, we should be constantly close to the kitchen since our pasta needs frequent stirring in order not to stick.

Extra Tip: If we choose this cooking method, it would be better to use shorter pasta, so that there is no risk of it breaking and it also makes stirring easier.

 

THE CONCLUSION

Each of the cooking methods mentioned above has its pros and cons. The truth is that I love cooking my pasta in broth because - in this way - it becomes delicious. However, this is not the way I usually cook it. So, the process I follow is the most classic and safest of all and it is the one I describe to you in # 3 which is -at the same time- one of the fastest and easiest that one could choose.

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