Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

5 myths about pasta

It’s one of the world’s most popular staple foods, with almost all of us having at least one pasta recipe in our repertoire, but while it’s an easy food to prepare, there are a few misconceptions about how to prepare pasta that can lead to less than perfect results. We’ll help put the record straight, by addressing five common myths.
1. Oil in the pan stops pasta from sticking.
Many people believe that adding oil to a pan of water when used to cook pasta, stops it from sticking together. Sadly, all it does is make it harder for the sauce to coat the pasta, so save your oil, and check out myth #2 instead.
2. Using less water helps cooking.
While it may speed up the boiling time, using less water in the pan is actually a bad idea, as you run the risk of the pasta sticking together. Give the pasta plenty of room to move in the water (remembering it expands) and things are likely to work out for the better.
3. Salting the water ruins the pasta.
If you’re conscious of your salt intake, it usually makes sense to cut back. But salting pasta water isn’t something to worry about. Not only does it help the pasta cook slightly faster, but it brings out the flavor and unlike potatoes, which absorb salt, it’s mostly lost when you drain the pan.
4. It doesn’t matter which sauce you use.
Sure, most pasta tastes similar, so in theory, it shouldn’t matter which sauce you pair it with. But the many different styles of pasta have different shapes for a reason – it effects not only the texture, but the way the sauce sticks to it. Sauce can glide off pasta sheets, get caught in shells and smother twists. So for the best experience, try and get the match right.
5. Throwing pasta against the wall is a good idea.
There are many old wives’ tales when it comes to cooking. Pasta is at its best to eat when it’s ‘al dente’. But it can be tricky knowing the right time to serve it. Some people believe that if you throw a piece at the wall, and it sticks, it’s ready. Not true. So save yourself the bother by just taking a bite – you don’t need a messy wall to tell you when dinner’s ready.