perfect pasta and letting your hair down

vkrees

Let’s talk about pasta, shall we?

I know a lot of you stopped eating the stuff in the name of dieting or finding out you have gluten intolerance. That’s cool, but don’t forget that a lot of brands are making really great brown rice pasta! I don’t eat pasta very often myself, because I have little self control after that first delicious, perfectly al dente bite. A lot of friends have asked me how to cook pasta perfectly every time, and I thought I would share my response with you guys…

-The cooking water

Add salt to your cooking water, always. Contrary to popular belief, this has less to do with the boiling temperature of the water, and more to do with salt making everything more delicious. You should add more salt than seems comfortable, don’t be shy. Also, when the pot has reached a full boil, lower the heat to medium-high. This will keep the water hot enough to cook the pasta but not too hot that we lose control of finding the perfect texture.

– Make sure your pasta is comfortable

Pasta hates crowds. I am guilty of underestimating how big of a pot to use for my pasta, especially because I love big floppy pasta shapes. (paccheri, rigatoni, papardelle, etc.) If you are having doubts about whether the pot you are about to use is spacious enough, you’re probably right. Go bigger. Pasta should never stick out of the surface of the water like shark fins. Full submersion is key! Also, stir frequently to avoid your pasta from getting stuck to the bottom of the pot, and to eachother.

-Straining & Holding

When your pasta is just a teensy bit before al dente (or however you like your pasta) , don’t waste a second! This is actually THE most important moment. Take the pot off the heat, and strain. Immediately hose those suckers down in your sink with super cold water. Otherwise, pasta will continue to cook with the residual heat. You’re thinking “but… I don’t want to eat cold pasta. Gross”. Of course we’re not going to eat cold pasta! We’re going to combine the pasta with your sauce and finish it off in there right before serving to ensure that everyone not only gets piping hot pasta…but it will also be p e r f e c t.

-Save some of the cooking water!

Before straining your pasta, save a cup of the salty now-starchy cooking water. This is used in a lot of traditional Italian recipes as a gentle thickener for sauces! Add it a little at a time while making your sauce to get a silky texture. This works best for non-dairy based sauces, and sauce-less pasta dishes like “carbonara” or “aglio e olio” (my favorites).

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Now let’s talk about how I went skinny dipping in the bay last night after 4 glasses of wine.

I think the last time I was in water without the proper attire was 2003. So, a decade. And that time was the only other time…I think. The reason I am going out on a limb and sharing this with you is because it was refreshing and really REALLY inspiring to do something that was “out of character” for me. Not necessarily the wine part, but the cannon-balling off a dock in my birthday suit part. It felt very primal, and maybe even spiritual. Sometimes the moment is just right, and you have to do something about it. Walking back through the empty streets with two of my best girlfriends, laughing loudly from the deepest part of our bellies was a reminder to myself to let my hair down more often. I am driven by my passions and my work since they are not mutually exclusive, and sometimes my headspace needs a break.

When was the last time you did something like that?

xo. alicia.

images: dinner table, running into the ocean

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