You have been making spaghetti and pasta the wrong way. Don’t feel bad though because I have for many years. Until I learned a better way to finalize the cooking and make the best pasta and sauce possible.
Also you may have been taught the wrong way. Don’t worry because there are only a few minor adjustments needed. The way you might be cooking is very close, so you don’t need to make any drastic changes.
Spaghetti can still be an easy and quick meal to cook. I know that is one reason why I like to do it. Try making your pasta this way next time and see what you think. You will impress your spouse, roommate and or yourself.
Should you cook pasta in the sauce? The best approach is to cook pasta in water then sauce in a separate pan. Bring sauce to a gentle boil, after pasta is done. Strain noodles but keep some of the water (optional). Then combine the noodles to the sauce pan. Continue cooking them together for a couple minutes. Add some of the water back in add the end (optional).
This method of combining the sauce and noodles towards the end. Is not much different than the common way of cooking them. It just adds a couple steps.
There is also some more you can do to make the pasta dish even better. If you want to cook you pasta in the sauce.
Read more: Cooking Tomato Sauce Tips and Tricks
Making Pasta The Common Way
So the most common way to make spaghetti at home. Is to cook the pasta and sauce separately. You boil the noodles in water either following the time on the instructions or sort of guessing their done.
In the meantime you are heating up the sauce. Bringing it to a simmer or slight boil. You use a rolling boil for the pasta and a gently boil for the sauce.
This is all good so far, but where most people make the mistake is in the next few steps.
Once the noodles are done you strain the noodles, dumping the water down the drain. Then you either put the noodles back in the pan or in a bowl to serve. You Take the sauce off the stove and get a ladle to scoop the sauce out.
The sauce is then scooped on top of the spaghetti noodles and you eat it, right?
Well there isn’t really a right or wrong way. This method is easy and still tastes pretty good. But there is another process that might be better to try.
Also you may be making some mistakes along the way with this commonly used way to make pasta.
Do This Next Time You Make Pasta
So this is the way to cook your pasta in the sauce. It is better than straight combing them both and cooking together. Because there is to much do figure in if you tried doing that.
You would need possibly too much sauce to fully dip the noodles into. The sauce is going to heat up unevenly. This cook affect the way the noodles cook.
One better way would be to fry both of them on a stove-top or in a oven. Similar to a lasagna. Even then you usually cook the lasagna noodles first. Of course there are exceptions (like no-boil noodles).
The other way to combine and cook the two together is fairly easy. Here is how to go about it.
Start the same way as before. Begin cooking the pasta noodles in water. First start boiling some water (add some salt to the water). Once it is boiling then add the pasta.
Add the sauce to a pan and start to bring it up to heat. The sauce should have been heating slowly while the water was coming to a boil. This works best because the noodles do not take as long.
This is where you start to deviate from the common way.
When the noodles are done and the sauce is simmering still. Put the noodles into the pan with the sauce or visa versa. Depending on the size of the pans you are using.
If you are going to do it the other way, you want to first remove the water. Pour the noodles out into a colander. Then put them back into the pan and pour the sauce in with the noodles.
You probably are using a bigger pot for the noodles than the sauce. If this is the cause pour the sauce in with the noodles. But remember to remove the water as mentioned.
There is the optional step to save a little bit of the water used for boiling the pasta. Depending how much pasta you are making, but for a standard box size, use 1 to 2 TBSP you don’t need much. Add the water back into the sauce and noodles. This is suppose to help add some starch to the mix and if done right will thicken the sauce.
When the sauce and noodles are together in a pan. Continue to cook them on lower heat for a couple minutes. Stir them together and add additional ingredients if needed.
You can add butter, olive oil or herbs and spices. Serve the pasta together after combining for a couple minutes.
This is a good way to cook pasta in the sauce, without trying to boil them in the same pan.
How This Differs From Before
The other method, the one I was doing for many years. You take the pasta onto a plate then pour the sauce on top.
Instead you are combining the two at the end and cooking them together. You are going to mix them anyway, but by finishing them both in the same pan. You mixing it much better, you no longer either add too much sauce or not enough.
Usually I am left with more sauce then needed, but sometimes you might run out of sauce and still have cooked noodles.
It is one step more in the cooking, but one less for when you are dishing it up. This also allows you to add in herbs and even cheese together. This is of course is optional. Sometimes you want to give the option to others if they want to add cheese or not.
What Not To Do With Pasta
- Do not add oil to the water you boil pasta in.
- This stops the sauce from sticking to the noodles properly
- Do not rinse the pasta after cooking
- Doing this removes starch that also helps sauce stick to noodles, and it can cool off the noodles to quickly. You don’t want to add fresh water, the water that is has been cooked in works best.
- Don’t dump all the water down the drain
- You might want to add some additional starchy water, it helps the sauce thicken and the two to combine better.
- Don’t use the right amount of water
- The ratio of water to pasta is crucial. On most noodle packages, it will instruct. For every pound of pasta use 4 – 6 quarts of water. 4 quarts equals 16 cups of water. 4 quarts is also equal to 128 fluid oz.
- Mix any noodle type with any sauce
- You want to use the right sauce with the right noodle. Thin noodles use thin lighter sauce. For bigger noodles use thicker sauce. Noodle shapes with holes or big spaces use chunkier sauces.
- Do not add the noodles too soon
- Wait for the water to come to a complete boil. Other wise the noodles become soggy.
- Do not test spaghetti by seeing if it sticks on something
- This is a common myth, you can do it for fun or a prank. But there is nothing to show that this means the noodles are done. You will only end up with a dirty fridge or wall.
Cooking Pasta In The Sauce: Oven and skillet.
The other methods of cooking similar to this is with making lasagna. Usually the recipe calls for precooking the noodles half way. Then when you go to bake it the noodle will finish cooking.
This is hard to get just right, especially the very top noodles. As they tend to get over cooked. Try soaking them in water first for about 15 – 20 minutes.
You can also use a skillet to cook pasta and sauce together. By heating the sauce in a skillet, the sauce heats up more evenly. You can cook noodles in boiling water first, then add them to a skillet with the sauce already heated. Finish cooking for a few minutes.
Italian Pasta Terms
- Al dente: Means pasta that has been cooked and is properly done. The pasta is done just right. Firm noodles instead of soft.
- Molto al dente: Means under cooked pasta noodles.