You will never have a perfect pasta dish with overcooked pasta. If you are not going to throw the overcooked pasta, you may only have two options; to continue simmering and come up with a pasta soup or try to salvage it by sautéing the overcooked pasta in olive oil or butter coated pan over medium fire. Stir occasionally until pasta regains its desired firmness or for approximately 7 – 8 minutes.
Being cautious of the time can be the best way not to overcook your pasta. By doing so, you are saving time, effort, and money. Mushy pasta will not surely give you the perfect pasta dish you desire. While it may be alright if you will be the only one eating the dish, it is surely a big embarrassment if you are sharing the meal with others.
While you can bring back the firmness of a mushy pasta by sautéing it on an oil or butter-coated skillet over medium fire, this only adds to the effort. You may also be preparing pasta that requires no oil or butter. In this case, you should have these helpful tips so that you will not come up with a mushy overcooked pasta:
Bring Water to a Boil
Putting your pasta over water that is not yet bubbling hot will not give you a firmly cooked pasta. This is because the pasta will soften before starting to get cooked. Your pasta will surely come out mushy losing its firmness while it is still in the pot. It is truly important that you wait until the water is boiling hot before adding the pasta.
Cut 1 Minute Off the Prescribed Cooking Time
Generally, all pasta that we buy from grocery stores has package instructions on how to cook them. Cooking time may depend on the size, shape, and thickness of the pasta. The cooking time of these different kinds of pasta can run from 1 minute to 15 minutes. Spaghetti noodles, for example, have almost the same 8 minutes of cooking time.
To be sure that your pasta will not be overcooked, remove the pasta from the pot with one minute left of the cooking time and drain. While the pasta may not be very well cooked, cooking will still continue if you do not pour cold water into it.
Check for Doneness 2 Minutes Before Cooking Time Elapses
Before the cooking time ends as per package instructions, checking the pasta every 30 seconds will prevent the pasta from overcooking. With a slotted spoon, lift some strands of pasta. If the pasta does not drape easily, it means additional cooking time is needed. They are already done if water drapes easily to the spoon.
Know How to Detect Done Pasta by Appearance
You can also check by looking at the appearance. When pasta is beginning to swell and are now starting to float, they are getting close to being done. If all the strands are uniformly translucent, they must be done already. To check, get a strand and cut. If there is no white ring at the center, the pasta is cooked already. Don’t waste any time. Drain the water and transfer the pasta to a large platter. Another minute in the hot water can easily overcook pasta.
Final Check by Tasting
The most efficient way to check for doneness is by tasting. You can begin tasting two minutes before the cooking time elapses as per package instructions. Done pasta is tender but it still has a bite feel. This point of cooking pasta is called “al dente,” which is the Italian term for “to the tooth.”
One important thing to consider when cooking pasta is its freshness. Fresh pasta cooks very much faster than dried pasta. You should be very cautious by the time you drop them into the boiling water. The fresher the pasta, the faster it will cook. Fresh pasta is soft and doughy while not yet done. When they are done, they will firm up.
It is also good to note that adding oil and salt to the water will enhance the quality of your past. Olive oil will prevent pasta from sticking together. On the other hand, the salt will add some flavor. Just do not overdo it.
Indeed, cooking pasta is tricky. The many forms of pasta may have different requirements to cook them. What is important is to bear in mind the cooking instructions that are inscribed on the package and follow the tips above. You will never overcook your pasta again, for sure.
How Good is Your Colander?
Often overlooked is the draining of the pasta from the water. Many recipes assume you have a colander to take care of this, but few stress the importance of having a well drained pile of noodles. Have you ever had a watery plate of Spaghetti at a restaurant? Of course not, because they know how that a good colander makes all the difference when draining your pasta. Our friends at 10Reviewz.com have done a review of some of the best colanders on the market, have a look at their opinion HERE.
Other Tools for Making Great Pasta:
If you are thinking of making lots of pasta, be sure to tell us about your recipes. Also, you might want to consider having some of these tools on hand to help you along the way:
- A Pasta Pot – designed to help you drain your pasta when done
- Good Oven Mits – when you are draining, there is lots of hot steam coming off and you don’t want to burn yourself. Get something that covers your wrists
- Colander – see above
- Pasta Fork – for scooping the pasta from the colander
- Cheese Grater – all pasta is best serve with fresh grated cheese, just like at a restaurant
- Pepper Mill – like fresh grated cheese, freshly grinded pepper makes all the difference.
- Apron – making, and eating for that matter, pasta can be messy business. Make sure you are covered!