Challenge two of my journey with Ask Italian was to cook a pasta dish – but to cook the pasta properly – to “do it right”.
It can’t only be me that is guilty of overcooking pasta – I always forget to look at the time when I put it on and I tend to just shove it into a pan of boiling water and hope for the best. The result to be fair is average pasta. Slather it in sauce and it is ok, but we can do better.
Ask Italian Ambassador Theo Randall has created a set of rules for cooking the perfect pasta…
- Use LOTS of boiling, well-salted water
- Cook for two minutes less than the packet instructions and finish cooking in the sauce with a spoonful of cooking water
- Enjoy immediately in small portions in warm bowls or plates – “pasta waits for no man”
- Tip pasta into a colander to drain it – use tongs or a slotted spoon to take pasta out of the water -Test ‘done-ness’ by throwing pasta onto the walls
- Use too much sauce – coat the pasta, don’t drown it
So with these rules in mind I went about making a yummy but quick pasta pesto recipe. The recipe itself is simple…
Red Pesto and Tomato Pasta
Heat some olive oil in a pan and add a small punnet of vine ripened cherry tomatoes. When they have started to pop open stir in a jar of red pesto and cook on a relatively high heat, stirring often until the tomatoes are cooked. Add a little of the pasta water and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir your sauce into your pasta when it is done.
Meanwhile I made the pasta (following Theo’s rules of course!). I added lots of salt to the pasta water and paid attention to when the pasta should be cooked. I timed it correctly and tested the pasta (not by throwing it against the wall) to check it was done. I drained the pasta in a colander and added just enough of the sauce to coat the pasta nicely.
The result was really delicious. The pasta was perfectly cooked, tasty and not at all rubbery or soft. The rules made a massive difference to the finished pasta and I’ll definitely be following the rules in the future!