Even though pasta is my signature dish, there have been times when I’ve made pasta that was rather dull. I was in a rush, the sauce wasn’t quite right, or the flavor was off somehow. I’m sure we’ve all been there, but those days are long gone.
Want to ‘wow’ your guests in no time? Keep reading – I’ve gathered my top five tips for winning at your next pasta dish.
1. Stop the Waiting Game
The first rule my mother taught me when making pasta, was to wait for the water to boil before you put the pasta in. Everyone lives by that rule. But does it really matter? A couple of years ago I decided to dump the pasta in the pot right away, and I’ve never looked back. Your pasta will be ready to eat in less time, and it doesn’t change the taste. So, why wait?
2. Don’t Forget the Salt
Make sure you drop at least 2 tablespoons of salt into the pot. Just before you put the pasta in the pot – that’s the perfect time to add it. You want to give the pasta water some added flavor like a well-seasoned soup. Be careful not to go overboard, or you’ll feel like you’re drinking salt water straight from the Pacific Ocean.
3. Undercook the Pasta
Want your pasta to truly be full of flavor? Cook the pasta and sauce together. Take the pasta out of the water around four minutes before the suggested cook time on the box and place it in the pan with the sauce. This will allow the sauce to thoroughly adhere to the noodles. Don’t worry about the pasta being undercooked; it will finish cooking in the pan.
4. Save the Starch
This may sound odd, but before you drain the pasta water, scoop out a cup and save it. Once the pasta is almost finished, add in the reserved water. The starch in the pasta water will assist in making sure the noodles truly bind with the sauce. The outcome: rich and creamy pasta, jam-packed with flavor.
5. Add Some Color
No one wants bland pasta – that’s the worst. So sauté some vegetables, add in a pinch of garlic, onions, or even basil to dress it up. Toss in your favorite protein: chicken, shrimp, and beef – it all works. That’s the great thing about pasta. You can use your creativity and add whatever you like to the mix. More often than not, it will be a hit!
Dying to test out your pasta skills in the kitchen? Well I’ve got a delicious and simple recipe for you to try: Creamy Spaghetti Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli. See for yourself!
Creamy Spaghetti Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli
1 (8 oz.) Creamette® Spaghetti Pasta
4 eggs, beaten
1 (15 oz.) jar Classico® Four Cheese Alfredo Pasta Sauce
1 Tbsp. Vigo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 ½ cup broccoli florets
1 ½ cup of diced onions
4 (4 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
Casaro® Shredded Parmesan, as desired
Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook pasta according to package directions until they are several minutes shy of al dente (about 7 minutes for most wheat pastas). Drain, but reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water. Return pasta to pot and cover to keep warm. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and pasta sauce. Set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions and broccoli. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook until chicken is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
- Return pasta pot to stovetop over low heat. Add chicken mixture to warm pasta and lightly toss with tongs. Slowly add pasta sauce mixture, a little at a time, tossing pasta frequently to prevent eggs from scrambling. Cook for 4-6 minutes, or until sauce is cooked through and thickened. Add reserved hot pasta water if needed to thin sauce to desired consistency. Add cheese and cook for another minute, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings