When it comes to delicious recipes, an easy meal and comforting food, you can’t really do better than pasta. You’ve probably got at least one type of pasta in your kitchen cupboard at all times ready to whip up something quick for the family.
From spaghetti to penne and orzo, there is a pasta for every mood, taste and dish, giving you plenty of variation to enjoy. But do you know how to really make the most of pasta?
The right pasta
Whether you love a meaty bolognese, a spicy sausage bake or a delicate seafood dish, you need to make sure you have the right pasta to work with your recipe. Choosing the correct type of pasta ensures it will complement what you’re cooking and ensure it’s easy to eat.
It works well with full-bodied sauces that pack a bit of a punch, but you need to ensure the sauce is thin enough to stick to the pasta or you could be left with splatters all over your dining table and yourself – although the same can happen if it’s too thin!
This little pasta looks a bit like rice and is really versatile as you can serve it up in stews and soups to make them even heartier – perfect for the winter months. It’s also great in pasta salads, tasting just as good cold as it does hot.
The perfect choice for flavourful sauces as well as chunky ingredients, making it ideal for teaming with meat, fish and vegetables. It’s also great for bakes as well as for pouring a sauce over so no wonder penne is so popular.
Ideal for teaming with lots of sauce that has a subtle flavour, linguine is an often overlooked pasta. Whether you like a creamy white wine sauce or a fresh tomato version, linguine is versatile enough for all tastes. You might think linguine is best left for the restaurants, but it really is easy to create a simple and delicious meal using it.
This is the pasta to choose if you love loads of sauce. The shell-shaped pasta ensures you get more sauce per mouthful as it serves as mini cups. It’s no wonder so many people team it with cheese and cream sauces. Try swapping your macaroni for conchiglie for an even more delicious meal.
Lovers of pretty pasta can’t do better than farfalle – which is also the Italian word for butterfly – as the bow-shaped pasta adds a lovely touch to your pasta dishes. Suitable for hot and cold pasta dishes – so choose this pasta for salads – farfalle is ideal for tomato sauces that can stick to the pasta, rather than heavy creamy varieties.
Getting the most out of your pasta
Once you have your pasta, you need to know how best to cook it to get delicious results. Many people don’t realise that they are actually cooking their pasta incorrectly, which can totally change the taste and texture of a meal. Here are some things you should remember even when you’re just whipping up something simple:
- Bring your water to the boil before adding your pasta. If you’re boiling it in a kettle, pour the water into your pot before adding your pasta to help stop the pasta sticking.
- Add plenty of salt to your water as this will help to infuse the pasta with flavour, ensuring it tastes good before you add your sauce.
- Use a big enough pot, remembering that pasta will expand when cooked so you need extra space.
- Make sure you stir your pasta regularly to stop it sticking and allow for even cooking. You should stir it as soon as you add it to the water and every minute or so afterwards.
- Don’t rinse your pasta. It isn’t like rice so you don’t need to pour water over it after draining your pasta. This will remove flavour and risk it overcooking as it continues cooking while it’s hot – this is why you should cook it al dente!
There are so many different ways to serve pasta, with supermarket aisles dedicated to different jars of sauce, which can make it tempting to not bother cooking anything from scratch. However, many of these can be extremely high in sugar or salt, making it healthier and cheaper to make your own sauce. These healthy, homemade pasta recipes are a good place to start.
L’atelier des Chefs has got some great pasta recipes to try no matter what your cooking ability. You can try something simple like this delicious penne pasta with feta, cherry tomatoes and olives or create a restaurant-worthy crab linguine.
So now you know how to cook tasty pasta, what are you waiting for?