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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: How to stretch, salt, and sauce your way to the perfect pasta.
Pasta is rightfully hailed as the king of easy entertaining and weeknight dinners. It’s unselfishly forgiving, graciously accepting our pantry want-nots and fridge mavericks to become a hearty, filling meal. But when we’re craving pasta -- really craving it -- we want it to be good. We want salted, tender noodles with a giving bite, a sauce that doesn’t slip off of them, and a final dish that won't leave us wishing for anything more.
So whether you're looking for a show-stopping dish to please a crowd, or just looking for a better weeknight pasta, we’ve rounded up the best pasta practices we know. Here’s to the quest for the perfect pasta.
- First, pick your pasta. If it's a busy weeknight or you're on a tight budget, go with a dried, boxed pasta -- just be sure to treat it right.
- If you're entertaining guests or perhaps planning a dinner party for one, experiment with making fresh pasta from scratch.
- Once you've made your dough, roll it out to the right thickness using either a hand-crank pasta machine or a stand mixer attachment; then, cut the dough into strips.
- For a special occasion, try your hand at shaping mezzalune, tortellini, or ravioli.
- Use the fresh pasta immediately, or dry it for future weeknight dinners. Have some down time while you wait for the noodles to dry? Read up on how to avoid the most common mistake when making pasta.
- It's time to cook your pasta. Before it even enters the pot, be sure to generously salt your water -- no less than 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta.
- Then, cook your pasta using one of these three methods (one of them takes just 60 seconds!), until the noodles have the texture of a fresh stick of gum.
- Once your pasta is cooked, choose a sauce that pairs well with your noodles, then sauce, serve, and top it with a generous helping of cheese. Revel in your pasta perfection.
A penne for your thoughts -- what are your tips for making the best pasta?
Photos by James Ransom