Monday, May 2, 2011

Cooking Pasta for Dinner

I, like many other women out there, more than likely learned how to cook from watching their Mom. My Mom was a wonderful cook. Not the exotic types of meals, but those hearty meals every kid loves to eat! I use a lot of her recipes today such as her Beef Stroganoff. My Mom also use to make her own spaghetti sauce. I never saw a jar of pasta sauce in my life until I went to college. She just didn’t believe in it! She had to make her own sauce which cooked all day long and made the house smell amazing when my sisters and I came home from school!

As I was making spaghetti for the boys the other day (with my jarred sauce, sorry Mom)! I thought about why I make the noodles the way I do. Well of course, that is how my Mom always did it. So here is how I prepare my pasta:

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, sprinkle salt in the water.
3. Break spaghetti noodles in half and add to the boiling water.
4. Stir and reduce heat to maintain boil.
5. Cook according to package directions.
6. Once done, drain pasta in colander in sink.
7. Rinse with cold water.
8. Scoop pasta into bowl and then top with sauce and grated Parmesan.

Well apparently my Mom has the salt correct, but rinsing pasta is a big “no no”! Who knew? I thought Mom was always right! So here are some tips provided by Fine Cooking on how to cook pasta properly:

To keep pasta from sticking, stir during the first minute or two of cooking

Add salt, but not oil. A generous amount of salt in the water seasons the pasta internally as it absorbs liquid and swells.

Hot pasta absorbs more sauce. Toss hot pasta with hot sauce quickly—without rinsing it—so the pasta absorbs more sauce and flavor.

What to do? Rinse or not to rinse?


  1. My mom always made homemade sauce too. I still do, but will use jarred sauce in a pinch. I also rinse my pasta with cold water. Once again that's how my mom did it. I don't break mine in half before cooking it though. My mom never broke her's. Strange how we continue to cook like we were taught. My daughter also cooks like I taught her. She rinses her pasta.

  2. I am married to an Italian (moved to US after we got married) and have learned to make so many wonderful dishes. I have also had my mother-in-law live with us for months at a time. The number 1 rule they taught me was NEVER rinse the pasta. Oh, did I get scolded the first time.
    The reason you don't rinse the pasta is that you want the extra starch on the pasta to help blend with the flavors in the sauce. Infact, for some dishes, like Pesto, you take some of the boiling water just before pouring out pasta to add to the sauce.