Just as you would never attempt to build a house without first building a strong foundation, no cook should attempt to master Italian cuisine without first learning how to cook perfect pasta. The base of many classic Italian dishes, pasta, serves as the foundation on which many meals from this inspiring culture are built.
At Coletta, we understand the true value of a delicious meal. With its emphasis on shared meals and family, Italian cuisine has an especially potent power to bring friends and family together around one table. Our team takes pride in helping vegan diners in New York– and all over– enjoy delicious, compassionately designed dishes.
Cooking Perfect Pasta
The ideal pasta has an even, firm consistency and a mild flavor that enhances those of the ingredients around it. Use this quick and easy guide to learn for yourself how to cook perfect pasta!
Understand your Types
Before embarking on your pasta journey, you must understand what pasta you are working with.
Generally speaking, pasta falls into one of two categories: fresh or dried. Fresh pasta is made with pasta dough that is still soft and slightly rubbery to the touch, while dried pasta comes prepackaged and requires no refrigeration. While dried pasta usually requires a more specific cooking time, fresh pasta takes only a few minutes and can usually be considered “done” when it rises to the top of the pot and remains there.
Be aware that the cooking time may heavily depend on the thickness of the pasta. While angel hair pasta may cook in only a few minutes, heavier rigatoni requires longer cooking times. If you plan on mixing two types of pasta within a single dish, it is best to still cook these pasta separately by type. Otherwise, you risk hard, uncooked noodles or a mushy mess.
Salt your Water
Is the salt absolutely necessary? No. Does it improve the flavor of the pasta and dish overall? Absolutely.
In salting the water before cooking your pasta, you ensure that the flavor fully penetrates each noodle, giving the otherwise mild flavor a stronger kick. While there is not necessarily a prescribed amount of salt that must be added, we suggest using a heavier pinch. Classic Italian cooking advice claims that the perfect pasta water is so salty that it tastes like the ocean.
Bring Water to a Rolling Boil
Always bring your water to a strong, rolling boil before adding your pasta. In doing so, you ensure that each noodle cooks thoroughly and evenly, helping you avoid the trap of mushy, limp pasta noodles.
The final and most enjoyable step comes last: taste test your pasta!
Traditionally, Italian pasta is intended to be cooked “al dente,” meaning “to the tooth.” This means that your cooked pasta should maintain a firm enough structure to hold heavy sauces without falling apart or becoming mushy.
This being said, the “perfect pasta” is relative. If you prefer your pasta noodles slightly firmer than most or with a bit more softness, that is entirely up to you! The “perfect pasta” is whatever has the best flavor and texture for the personal preferences of the diner.
Bonus Tip: Save Some Pasta Water
Before pouring out all that pasta water, take a moment to carefully skim a cup off the top. This used water is not trash; it is potentially the finishing touch to your next vegan pasta sauce!
As you boil your pasta, the water pulls out some of the natural starches. The result is a starchy, salty liquid that can easily be used to thicken and smooth otherwise watery sauces.
While helpful in all Italian dishes, this tip can be especially useful for vegan diners. Because vegetables have such a high water content, it can be difficult to maintain a smooth, thick consistency in veggie-rich dishes. By adding a cup of pasta water and continuing to cook your sauce for a bit longer, you can easily create the thick, creamy pasta topping of your dreams!
Enjoying Italian Food with Coletta
Don’t feel up to cooking a full meal? Trust the experts at Coletta to serve you the perfect pasta, every time. Our professional chefs are trained in the latest tips and tricks behind creating a crowd-pleasing Italian dish. Best of all, every bite of our inclusive menu is completely cruelty-free and kosher certified. Feel free to treat every family member to a dish they are guaranteed to love!
To taste the flavors that have Gramercy all abuzz, visit our restaurant or order online to have us bring your new favorite dish right to your door.