Do you love Italian pasta? Have you tried to buy the best ingredients, to make the best sauce, but are you afraid that your pastas still lack that extra “Italian” kick? Here are some suggestions, directly from Italy!
- Put a lot of water to boil in a pot. When it’s boiling, put about a tablespoon of salt. Only then add the pasta.
- Cook the sauce separately, in a pan. Let it dry up a lot, the sauce should be very, very thick. This way it gets way tastier! “Pasta” in Italian is short for “pasta asciutta”, which means “dry pasta”, it is not a soup.
- Drain the pasta when it is still a little early (“al dente”).
- After draining, add the pasta in the pan with the sauce. This is very important, the pasta must take the flavor of the sauce! Stir well for a couple of minutes before serving. For this to work, the sauce should be thick and sticky (see point 2).
- Match the pasta to the sauce you are using. If it is just dense and sticky (e.g. Carbonara), spaghetti are the best. If it is more liquid or contains vegetables (e.g. Pasta e fagioli), use a different shape like penne, otherwise the pasta wouldn’t retain the sauce enough (and the moment you raise your fork, the sauce drops!).
- Always cook your own sauce. Freshly homemade sauce is best. If you have leftover sauce, freeze it, then to use it again warm it up in a pan to bring it back to life.
- Prefer Italian brands of pasta, because they tend to retain their texture better. “De Cecco” and “Voiello” are the most common abroad, while still being of good quality.
- When using tomatoes or tomato sauce, prefer quality over quantity. The tomatoes should be very red, ripe, and sweet. They should have a strong taste, so do not put too many of them, unless you are doing a tomato soup! Before using them, remove the seeds with a knife, as the seeds add an undesirable bitter note. And always remember to let the sauce dry up a lot.
- Use wine to cook. Pour it on the vegetables (or meat) while they are sizzling, before pouring water (or broth, tomato sauce, etc). Let the alcohol evaporate completely (it should stop smelling like alcohol) before adding any more liquids.
- Decorate your plate with the same ingredients that you use in the sauce, but raw or uncut. This way you give hint of what is about to be tasted. For example, on pesto, put a fresh basil leaf on each plate.