Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Avoid Overcooking Pasta - Angel Hair Pasta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Test strands. Use the recommended cooking time specified on the package as a general guideline only. Depending on the quantity of water, the particular batch of pasta and the strength of the heat source, cooking times will vary. Lower-quality pastas can go from underdone to overcooked in two minutes. So keep testing for doneness by tasting one or two strands at a time. If the pasta is stiff, offering any true resistance, it needs more time. If it seems relatively soft, but sticks slightly to the teeth, you’re almost there. Give it another 30 seconds. Then it’s ready.

Drain immediately. As soon as the pasta is done, drain it at once. If your sink doesn’t drain quickly, lift the colander up out of the hot water. If you cook pasta often, consider a pasta pot with a colander insert that allows you to remove the pasta at once without tangling.

Remember, it keeps cooking. Like all cooked food, pasta continues to cook even after it’s been removed from heat and has been drained. If it’s hot, even warm, and especially if it’s under a hot sauce, it’s still cooking! To deal with this fact of thermodynamics, the best chefs typically either a) undercook their pasta slightly if it is to be immediately plated with a sauce, or b) rinse their pasta as described below. The intentional undercooking of pasta is especially important if you plan to leave just-cooked pasta in a large serving dish for a dinner party. Just ask any caterer.

Rinse if you need to. If you’re concerned that you have overcooked the pasta, you can rinse, or “shock,” the pasta briefly in cold or room-temperature water. You will read everywhere else that one should never, ever rinse pasta because it removes the important surface starch that helps the sauce cling to the pasta. This is true, but given the alternative of mushy pasta, you can give up some cling. And—trade secret—most of America’s restaurants generally employ this technique, not because they overcook their pasta, but because it allows the chef to halt the cooking process at precisely the right moment. You’ll still want to slightly undercook rinsed pasta if you’re going to be re-heating it with other ingredients in a skillet or wok just before serving time. But you’ll have some breathing room should your recipe divert your attention elsewhere, and you’ll be assured of the perfect doneness when finally ready to plate your completed dish.

Angel Hair Pasta with Feta and Sun-dried Tomatoes


1 (16 ounce) package angel hair pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, softened and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 (8 ounce) package tomato basil feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste


  • Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, add salt.  Cook pasta in boiling water until done; drain.

  • Return pasta to pot. 

  • While pasta is cooking saute garlic, onion, tomato and basil in the butter; add to pasta.

  • Mix in the oil, feta and Parmesan cheese.

  • Season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm.
Enjoy and have a blessed day!!!!!

No comments: