Italian

Roast Pasta Before Cooking it. Really!

March 30, 2017

I'll admit I was skeptical of this idea we found in Ideas in Food by Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa. Roasting concentrates flavor— roasted vegetables, I can get behind. Roasted fruit and citrus, too. But pasta is pretty perfect in my mind, so why roast it dry to enhance flavor before cooking and saucing it?

And then I tried it. After roasting for about 10 minutes, it emerged from the oven a golden, almost reddish brown. I then rehydrated it in water in the fridge for a couple hours. Then, I cooked it as I normally would. The result was nutty and toasted, at once foreign and familiar. It was an amped-up version of the food I've probably eaten thousands of times. The texture was strange: very al dente, almost a bit rubbery, but this corrected itself once I paired it with a pan sauce. I was sold.

Here's how to roast pasta:

Arrange 1 pound (453 g) dried bucatini or spaghetti on a roasting pan in an even layer two bucatini deep. Toast in a 350° F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until a deep golden brown.

Let cool completely, then place in a plastic bag and add water. Close the bag, pushing out air, and let hydrate in the refrigerator for 2 1/2 hours. Alternatively, you can cook the pasta after it cools—just note it will take longer (more like 15 minutes) than un-roasted pasta, and it will likely not get past the al dente point.

Here's what to do with it (because this is not normal pasta):

  • Pair with a simple sauce that will let the nutty, toasty pasta flavor shine—even a garlicky Aglio e Olio can overwhelm it. We liked Cacio e Pepe, which Ideas in Food suggests.

  • A no-cook ricotta, olive oil, and parsley sauce would be excellent, too.

  • The pasta's al dente texture is perfect for brothy dishes or soups where normal dried pasta can quickly turn mushy. For a take on fideos, a Spanish technique that calls for pan-frying pasta in olive oil to achieve that nuttiness, break the spaghetti into short pieces before roasting.
  • If you boil your pasta instead of re-hydrating in the fridge, save that pasta water! Like the noodles themselves, the water will have a deeper, nuttier flavor. You can save it to thicken pan sauces, use in other pasta dishes, or add a few ladlefuls when couscous or fregola.

Have you tried roasting pasta? What do you use it for? Tell us in the comments!

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“But the smell of roasting grains ( steel cut oats very nice ) or pasta adds to the enjoyment. Also, adding curry to the miso sounds like a great experiment. Especially if you roast fresh curry ingredients along with fresh roasted pasta! I'm trying this today! Thanks for the ideas! Yum! ”
— Nimrod
Comment

This article originally appeared on March 24, 2016. We're re-running it now because it's such a smart trick, don't you think?

All photos by Bobbi Lin.

35 Comments

Christine July 26, 2018
I had never heard of roasting pasta before, until yesterday. I stopped by a friend's house who offered it to me to try. They roasted linguine and also roasted pine nuts. The pasta was then boiled and the pine nuts were put into a food processor with a small amount of olive oil until the were finely chopped. After the pasta was cooked and strained the pine nuts were added. Very simple, very delicious. I will definitely try making this or an create another dish using roasted pasta. I loved the flavor.
 
Ethan March 9, 2018
Can you put this recipe in real units of measurement please
 
vitya September 29, 2017
Here in Israel we have toasted pasta just like this that is shaped like rice or rice grain sized balls, called ptitim (means flakes, but they're usually not flat). I'm preparing some for my family right now, it tastes delicious!
 
FrugalCat August 24, 2017
If you do this on a regular basis, you can then sub in whole wheat pasta and the family will not notice as they are used to the brown color.
 
Panfusine March 30, 2017
There is a beloved dish in South India called Semiya Upma (made with vermicelli / capellini - yes.. we've naturalized this and consider it a traditional south Indian ingredient for all culinary purposes ) and toasting the pasta is mandatory. <br />https://food52.com/recipes/13393-stellini-upma-with-roasted-cauliflower-couscous<br />As it is with the other favorite - a desset called Semiya payasam <br />https://food52.com/recipes/15510-vermicelli-pudding-semiya-payasam<br />
 
Judith R. January 14, 2017
Hmm. Interesting. I've browned small pasta like orzo and acini di pepe, and other grains like rice and quinoa in oil before adding liquid and other ingredients to make pilaf-ish sorts of things. Will have to give this a try.
 
Johnny B. January 10, 2017
You should try smoking the pasta<br />
 
Derrick K. April 17, 2016
Can you do this with fresh pasta?
 
Miss P. April 16, 2016
I made this last night. Big hit! Organic spaghetti, roasted for 13 minutes. Soaked 1.5 hours. Pesto was approx 1.5 cups frozen peas, 1 cup basil, 1/2 cup cilantro, handful of mint leaves, juice of two lemons, olive oil and a little salt in Cuisinart. Yum!
 
I_Fortuna April 13, 2016
You really could do this in a dry frying pan. I roast my rice before cooking also, and it cuts down on the effect of the starch on our blood sugar. <br />In Mexico broken vermicelli (toasted in the pan), tomatoes, and spice we call it "fideo". : )<br />
 
velia April 13, 2016
In Mexico, we fry certain pastas , i.e vermicelly and then add seasonings, finely chopped tomatoes, onions and garlic, adding enough chicken broth for the desired kind of soup and orzo, which we make together with rice dishes.
 
Tammy R. April 13, 2016
Would this work for shaped pasta such as penne or rigatoni? My partner doesn't care for long pasta. One of my favourite sauces is browned butter and sage, which I imagine would be ah-maaaazing with this approach.
 
Andy M. April 13, 2016
It should work. The browning may be uneven but the added flavor would sure be there.
 
Nimrod April 7, 2016
Nice to know about microwave option for those without over broilers. But the smell of roasting grains ( steel cut oats very nice ) or pasta adds to the enjoyment. Also, adding curry to the miso sounds like a great experiment. Especially if you roast fresh curry ingredients along with fresh roasted pasta! I'm trying this today! Thanks for the ideas! Yum!
 
Alan U. April 7, 2016
Vermicelli upma is a classic Indian dish using bunt pasta as mentioned. There is also a laura Calder dish from her special on the alps called "burnt pasta". The really simple "cheat" by the way is to microwave on high for 3 minutes. I never thought it would work. Sure enough. Roasted vermicelli or angel hair in 3 minutes.
 
Andy M. April 7, 2016
That microwave tip is a good one. Thanks.
 
Stephanie B. April 4, 2016
Super yummy tip! I tried this with cacio e pepe. And I'm not sure if this is a heresy or something, but I added a little bit of a mild miso to the butter/reserved pasta water step. So good!
 
Nimrod April 5, 2016
Miso great! Try roasted Japanese Soba with your butter and miso, and with fresh black eyed peas ( celery heart, thyme, basil, onion, garlic all to taste ). Somthing about this combo makes for perfect comfort food!
 
Mel March 27, 2016
I was wondering if rice pasta would work the same?
 
Stephanie April 21, 2016
Post if you try! I think I'm going to do it (after Passover) and use my Instant Pot. If it never gets past al dente, I don't have to worry much with the pressure cooking...
 
Ako N. March 24, 2016
After having re-hydrated in the fridge for 2 1/2hours,do I have to boil the roasted pasta?If so, how long do I boil it?
 
Andy M. March 24, 2016
Use the cook time for the pasta you are browning as a guide.
 
Ako N. March 24, 2016
Hello Andy,<br />Thanks for your reply. I've still got a question.<br />Boiling the roasted and soaked pasta as the instructions, is the pasta's al dente texture still intact?<br />
 
Andy M. March 24, 2016
Hi, I'm saying there is no need to soak it before boiling. Just toast and boil. As I said, use the pasta cooking time as a guide. Check it until it reaches the al dente level.
 
Ako N. March 24, 2016
Oh, thanks, but I would like to try the re-hydrated method!
 
Andy M. March 24, 2016
Try it both ways
 
Ako N. March 25, 2016
I'll do it both ways, thanks!!
 
Smaug March 24, 2016
I seem to recall (it's been at least 40 years) that the first step with Rice A Roni (the San Francisco Treat) was to pan toast the rice and macaroni bits before adding the liquid.
 
Sharon H. September 17, 2017
Totally remember that! "The San Francisco Treat" haha. I loved it as a kid...
 
Andy M. March 24, 2016
I grew up eating browned pasta. It was a regular side dish at our home. Just toast it brown and toss it into salted boiling water as with regular pasta. Easy peasy.
 
Susan L. January 8, 2018
Just reading this now but does it reduce the cooking time if it's cooked straight after roasting it or is it the same time to boil it?<br />
 
Rhianna M. March 24, 2016
How long do you boil it for if you've rehydrated it for the 2.5 hours?