Monday, March 19, 2012

Skinny Dipping with Pasta

Release your pasta from the constraints of its package, let it go skinny dipping, swimming freely and uninhibited in a sea of salt water.

Cooking pasta the right way. (A.K.A. cooking it the Italian way.) 

Here's how. . .

The Pot:

A good quality pasta pot is a great investment, however, it's not a necessity. Use a large, wide, deep pot.

The Water:

Fill the pot with cold water and bring to a full-on rolling boil.


This is important. Add a palm-full of salt to the water. You can use sea-salt, iodized salt or kosher salt. This is what will bring out the pasta's flavor. Don't worry, this will not interfere with the sauce you have planned for the pasta dish. The pasta doesn't absorb all the salt in the water, it's there to season it and ensure you don't serve bland pasta topped with sauce.

Pasta Al Dente - Not only tastes a lot better it's also healthier as it helps to keep your blood sugar in better control

I'm sure everyone has heard this term when it comes to cooking pasta. This can be confusing, as some people think it means the pasta is almost raw. Al dente means firm to the touch (or tooth when tasting). Follow package directions for cooking times. About two minutes before the directions say the pasta is ready, taste one. The pasta should have a nice bite to it with some resistance. Once you've bitten into the piece, make sure the pasta isn't white inside, you'll be able to see. If it's white, it means it will be too hard, and needs to cook for another minute or so.
Eating pasta al dente is also healthier, as less starch and sugar is released through this cooking method. Pasta cooked al dente has a lower glycemic index (GI).
Overcooked pasta not only tastes mushy and unappetizing it also sends your blood sugar higher. Two good reasons to take your time and cook it the Italian way.
Also, remember, the pasta continues to cook after you've drained it and then tossed it into hot sauce.

Facts or Myths?

Adding oil to the pasta water while it's boiling will ensure your pasta doesn't stick?
MYTH - NEVER add any oil to the pasta cooking water. I think someone started this myth, thinking that it would eliminate clumped pasta. Not so. If you don't want your pasta to stick together in a big clump, see above instructions about adding enough water.

Rinse cooked pasta in cold water?
MYTH - Never rinse cooked pasta. The starch (I know, a dieter's nightmare, but just have a small portion of pasta to enjoy) not only adds flavor but it will help the sauce stick to the pasta.
Exception to this rule: Cold Pasta Salad. You'd have to rinse the pasta in cold water to get rid of the starch for a salad.

Coat cooked pasta with olive oil before adding the sauce?
MYTH - Never coat pasta with any oil. This will not prevent sticking, it will prevent your sauce from properly adhering to the pasta dish. If you want to add some extra-virgin olive oil to the dish (especially if you are serving it with a tomato sauce), then yes, you can drizzle some on top of the dish, once the sauce has been tossed into the sauce and topped off with some vegetables or sauce. Then you can drizzle some oil on top.

White Pasta Recipe:

Here's a simple recipe that my family loves that's an alternative to tomato sauce with pasta. It's fast, easy and delicious.

Package of Angel Hair Pasta
1 cup pine nuts
1 head of roasted garlic
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano Cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cook pasta as indicated above.

While water is boiling, heat up  large saute pan coating the bottom with oil, once oil sizzles, turn down heat to low and add: add garlic, pine nuts and parsley and stir. Cover and leave on the lowest setting on your stove.

Once pasta is cooked al dente, drain well, shake off any excess water.

Turn up the heat on your saute pan to medium-high.

Add the pasta to garlic and parsley, and toss in the pan.

Add cheeses and toss in pan.

Turn heat off.

Add breadcrumbs and toss all the way through.


If you have any questions, please feel free to post them here.

Until next time .  .  . Buon appetito!

Selena is the author of genre-defying, sexy, funny romances. In love with her family, friends, dog, books, laughter, lively discussions and red wine, she is a dragon slayer who enjoys reading and writing sassy heroines and hot heroes.

After giving up her dream of becoming a movie star/dancer/singer, Selena pursued her second-in-line dream of becoming a writer, creating fun characters with her version of happy ever after endings.

You can also connect with Selena on her blog, Selena Robins Musings, where she shares recipes, interviews other authors, holds drawings, giveaways...basically anything goes as long as her readers are having a blast.


Tina Donahue said...

Thanks for the tips, Selena. Pasta is one of the few things that I do cook well. :)

Selena Robins said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Tina. Pasta is so diverse, so many great ways to make it and top it with a lot of different things besides sauce.

jean hart stewart said...

Thanks for the tips, Selena. I thought I was doing it right but evidently wasn't. !!!!!

Fiona McGier said...

The white sauce looks intriguing...but I never add salt to the water because almost all of us have high blood pressure, and the pills are working so why make them work harder? There is a lot of salt in Parmesan cheese, but I love cheese of all kinds, so I add my salt there.
My husband makes a fantastic spaghetti meat sauce, with tons of garlic! And he's Polish, so where did that come from? But we all believe there is NO such thing as "too much garlic"! So YUM!
Thanks for sharing your recipe.