Monday, 3 June 2013

How To Cook Pasta To Al Dente

When talking about italian cooking and italian food so many people use the words "al dente", but how actually know what really “al dente” means? And why it seems to be so important to Italians to have their pasta cooked this way?

Al dente” in Italian, literally means “to the tooth,” it’s a term used to describe the perfect cooking point for pasta or risotto, when you bite into the pasta or rice there should be no white inside (so it’s not raw), but it’s not mushy. Mushy pasta is unacceptable in in any cuisine, not just Italian cuisine.
Overcooked pasta has absorbed too much water and therefore sits more heavily in your stomach and is much harder to digest. On top of that, overcooked pasta can cause your blood sugar to rise more quickly than al dente pasta due to its higher glycemic index. So, not only does pasta al dente taste better, but it’s better for you too, so for you own health try to cook it this way.

Normally, well a quide anyway, 85-100grams (or 3-3.5 oz) of pasta is enough for one person. The amount of pasta being cooked determines the amount of water you want to boil. Keep in mind that when cooked, the pasta will expand a bit and you don’t want your pieces of pasta to stick together, it’s best to use use plenty of water, as a general rule 100g pasta needs 1 litre of boiling water to cook in. The water has to have enough room to move around freely, don’t be stingy with the pasta water.

When you put your water on to boil, don't salt it straight away, wait till the water is at a rolling boil then add your course sea salt,  about 1 1/2 tablespoon of salt per litreof water, the movement and heat of the water will dissolve the salt quickly. Then wait for the water to return to a rolling boil and then toss in your pasta. Immediately after tossing in your pasta, give it a stir. this will keep it from sticking. Wait for the water to start boiling again and look at the clock.
Each package of pasta has a “required cooking time” printed on it. Take a look at what yours says. If it says 9-10 minutes, remove your pasta and add to your sauce at 7 minutes. The best way to check the pasta is by taking out one piece of pasta and biting into it. If there’s still white in the middle, it’s still raw. When you see no more white in the middle, the pasta is cooked nice and evenly through and still offers a little resistance to the bite: it’s ready. Never strain the pasta into a colander, the steam creeated will over cook your pasta. The best way to add your pasta hothouse sauce is to remove it from the boiling water carefully with either tongs or a slotted spoon or scoop and add t your sauce, always add pasta to sauce never sauce to your pasta. Soon as you have done this toss the pasta into the sauce this will not only allow the sauce t coat the pasta it will also impart some of the pasta starch int your sauce and thicken it slightly. 

 And that’s how you cook pasta al dente!