1. First of all you don’t need to use a huge pot of water, just enough to give the pasta enough room to cook. About 3 ltrs of water for 500 grams of pasta should be plenty.
2. Salt the water generously before you bring it to a boil. The salt doesn’t do anything in terms of cooking the pasta; it’s there entirely for flavour. It gets absorbed into the pasta during cooking, seasoning from the inside out and ultimately giving you a tastier final dish
3. There is no need to put oil in the water “to keep the pasta from sticking together.” It doesn’t really work. Just stir the pasta as soon as you immerse it, and a few more times while it cooks.
4. Don’t overcook pasta. It should be just “al dente” — literally “to the tooth,” meaning that you will get a little resistance when you bite into it. If you cook pasta too long though, it gets unpleasantly gummy.
5. Unless you have a consistent supply of pasta or a very good eye, the only way to tell whether store-bought pasta is done is to taste a bit of it. Dried pasta can be three months old or three years old, and the latter will take longer to soften than the former. Home-made pasta, if it is used fresh, should never take more than three to five minutes to cook properly.
6. Drain the pasta, but for heaven’s sake don’t rinse it. It’s the starch that remains on it that helps the sauce to cling.
7. Mix it immediately with the sauce, simply tossing it a few times and not mixing it vigorously. Don’t overdo the sauce at all, else the pasta will become all gooey.
- Use only small amounts of vegetable oils, margarine or vegetable cooking spray when preparing pasta dishes. Often recipes suggest usage of lots of olive oil to smooth-en the texture, but I hardly use it no more than 1 tbsp to cook 300-350 gms pasta and that works just fine for me.
- Never, ever pour in the pasta before the water reaches a boiling point. Only when the water starts to boil vigorously add the dried pasta to cook. Else pasta will become very chewy and sticky and will loose all its smooth slurpy nature.
- You may keep leftover cooked pasta in the refrigerator for up to three days. When it’s time to reheat, simply put it in a colander and then place it directly into boiling water for one minute.
- You may also add leftover pasta to your favorite soup. If you use dry pasta, simmer the soup for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
- When creating an impromptu pasta dish, remember that “less is more” and limit the number of ingredients that you use. Oil, garlic, crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and hot pepper flakes is one delicious combination.
I came across this recipe while preparing pizza sauce for a party. We loved it so much, and I kept the remaining for the use next day. It was a bit chunky and not too sweet since I didnt add loads of tomatoes to it. It was mildly spiced and herbs were very subtly used, hence giving nice colour and true flavour of a tomato sauce.
Here is the recipe for the same:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 big white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
500 gms chopped tomatoes ( almost 4-5 medium sized )
Salt as per taste
1 tsp powdered black pepper
1 tbsp fresh basil and oregano ( or you may use dried herbs )
1 tsp Sugar ( optional )
How to make?
- Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan. When the oil is hot add the onions, garlic, and bay leaf and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the tomatoes and stir. Let this simmer, uncovered, until some of the water has evaporated and it is thick and pulpy, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It may take longer…be patient and you will be rewarded.
- At this point taste and season with salt and pepper, and sugar if using. Add a couple of swirls of extra virgin olive oil if you want and stir. Let this simmer for a further 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- If you are using fresh herbs add them now, toss in the sauce, then take off the heat.
- You can use this immediately, store it in the fridge for 4-5 days, or in the freezer for 3-6 months.
You can use this sauce as is; tossed with some pasta and a dusting of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and you will have a completely satisfying bowl of pasta in red sauce. It can also be used as a base for many other pasta sauces. In the pictures, I have added few pieces of chopped Zucchini to the sauce, you may throw in mushrooms, eggplant, olives, carrots etc..
And by no means is this just for pasta. You can use this as a pizza sauce, a base for cooking fish or chicken, for baked veggies topped with a crumb and cheese crust, however you want to have it. You can experiment with different spices as well…Enjoy !! 🙂