Tricks of the Pasta Trade
“This is the night…” you will hopefully learn some new tricks that will help your pasta experience be unforgettably delicious and successful. I love the scene in Lady and the Tramp where they enjoy a huge plate piled with spaghetti and meatballs. Don’t you just want to join them and have a noodle tap you on the nose! Pasta is a beloved dish by so many. To let you in on a little secret of mine, it is a dish that I always dreaded making. I felt like I could never get my noodles cooked just right. I know that is probably so silly. But it is true. So, I would avoid making pasta which should be the easiest thing to make ever, right! I have learned some tips that have helped me conquer my fear of pasta cooking though and I’d like to share some of them with you. Here are some of the neat tricks and tips I’ve heard and used over the years:
Use a wooden spook to prevent overflowing pots. As your pot is boiling just place that wooden spoon over top to keep that water from making a mess. I seem to have a boiling over pot often in this house while I’m multitasking with two littles, so this tip hopefully will save many a “AHHHH” kitchen moments.
Add seasoning to the boiling water for extra flavor. Mmmm, I like this idea. Spices and seasoning are a must with a noodle dish. Why not get those flavors infused together while it’s boiling? What a simple way to make sure your dish wows the tastebuds.
Criss-cross lasagna noodles for perfect slices. What a great little tip! I had never heard this one and think it is pure genius. Lasagna is one of my all time favorite meals ever and now I am going to have to make sure to keep this little trick in my back pocket as I put it together.
Make pasta more luscious with butter, add a bit melted after the pastas been drained. This tip is also much like the concept of adding some olive oil to your noodles. But as Julia Child once said, “Everything is better with butter.”
It’s never a good idea to cook two different varieties of pasta together, they really do cook differently and lets face it, it looks kind of wacky to see spaghetti and penne mixed together. Make sure that you don’t just toss in all those last bits of noodles left in their containers in one pot, it will be a taste disaster of some done and some not.
Don’t rinse the pasta! This one is one of the most interesting ones I heard, because I usually always rinse my pasta noodles after their boiled. So, why, you might ask. Rinsing your noodles removes the starch. Which basically rinses the flavor and the noodles ability to stick to the sauce it’s added to. The only time you would ever rinse your pasta is if it is going to be served cold, like many pasta salads.
Stir, stir, stir. No you don’t have to stand there and stir all the time, but make sure you don’t just leave that pot of noodles on it’s own. Stirring the noodles will prevent them from sticking together. Keep the pasta moving around in the pot, preventing clumping and helping it cook consistently and evenly.
Add some salt to that boiling water! Salt is important because it has contact with the surface of the pasta and keeps it from getting slimy. Also, if the pasta cooks in plain water it will taste bland. The texture and flavor you result with will make you thank that added salt later!
So there you have a few little tricks and taste tips for you the next time you are whipping up a pot of noodles. And here is a great recipe to reenact the scene we all love so much from Lady and the Tramp. Cook a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs and have a lovely Bella Notte! What are some tricks you use with your pasta dishes? I would love to get more advice and learn from you to. Share in the comments below some ways you make pasta cooking awesome in your home.
Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti & Meatballs
1 pound ground sirloin
1/4 cup minced fresh onion
2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 (25.5-ounce) jar fat-free tomato-and-basil pasta sauce, divided
5 cups hot cooked spaghetti (about 8 ounces uncooked pasta)
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Combine the first 6 ingredients and 2 tablespoons of pasta sauce in a medium bowl. Shape the meat mixture into 25 (1-inch) meatballs. Place a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add the meatballs, and cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Stir in remaining pasta sauce. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until the meatballs are done, stirring occasionally. Serve the meatballs over spaghetti, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
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