Cooking Like a Pro: Perfect Pasta

Hi there! Hope you are all having a great weekend. The weather here in Vancouver has been beyond amazing these past few days. We all know what that means. BBQs, picnics, fun outdoor activities and no time (or energy) to cook, of course.

During the summer months, I find myself cooking pasta more often than I should as pasta dishes are for the most part simple, quick and light. Perfect for summer. I usually cook a large batch of plain pasta, portion it out and keep it in the fridge for the week. I can honestly say those weird-looking packets of pasta in my fridge have saved the day more than once. Today, to show pasta my unconditional love and appreciation, I have here for you 7 tips to get perfectly cooked, delicious pasta every single time. Say goodbye to mushy, bland pasta and pasta sticking together. Yuck!

1. Bring Out the Big Pots. Those rebellious pasta pieces should have plenty of water and space to move around freely. Rule of thumb is 4 parts water for 1 part pasta. In other words, if you’re making 1 cup of pasta, you will need 4 times that amount in water. Give your pasta plenty of space to get comfortable and it will not stick together.

2. Salt That Water Like There’s No Tomorrow. The water where you cook your pasta in should be as salty as the sea. The cooking water will be absorbed by the pasta. If the water is tasteless, so will your pasta. You don’t want bland pasta, do you? Oh, and don’t worry about sodium here. If your pasta is slightly salty already, you’ll end up adding less salt when seasoning the final dish. It all balances out in the end. In fact, you’re less likely to over season something this way as you’re not trying to compensate for the plainness of the pasta.

3. Work It, Bubbles. Always allow water to come to a rolling boil before dropping the pasta in the pot. If the water is boiling vigorously, all those giant bubbles coming up to the surface will help keep pasta pieces separate so they don’t stick together

4. Stir Like You Mean It. As soon as all the pasta is submerged in boiling water, give it a gentle but good stir. Once again, this will prevent the pasta from sticking together.

5. Embrace Seasonings. Feel free to add seasonings to the cooking liquid. The pasta will absorb the added flavour and that will only magnified the deliciousness factor of your final dish. I know people who add a couple of bay leafs to the the boiling water. Others prefer to add onion. I particularly add a stick of cinnamon if I’m adding tomato sauce to the pasta. Tomato sauce and cinnamon are a match made in heaven. It gives it a very special je ne sais quoi. Experiment. Don’t be scared.

6. Listen To the Box. Please, do read the instructions on the package. There is one very important thing printed on that pasta package that you really want to pay attention to: cooking time. Some pastas need to be cooked longer than other and those cooking times you see there on the package are ridiculously accurate. More often than not, you will end up with a beautiful, al dente pasta if do what it says on the package. Sometimes, pasta boxes do know best.  

7. A Touch of Oil. Drain the pasta and toss it in a bit of vegetable or olive oil right away. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together. Yes, it is as simple as that. If you are using the pasta for a pasta salad, you can add a bit of the dressing instead of oil as the pasta will absorb some of that flavour as it cools. Yum.

I hope these quick tips make your life in the kitchen a bit easier. Pasta doesn’t have to be boring or bland. Let’s make pasta exciting again!


  1. rhonwynalyna

    Loved your article! I enjoy adding garlic and basil to my water. I’ve had so many people be surprised when I do that, too. Its funny and a shame at the same time that people are so willing to accept and expect bland pasta!

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