26 January 2010

How to Cook Perfect Al Dente Pasta, Giadas Simple Recipe

From Denny: Beginner cooks are always asking how to cook pasta just up to the right texture without going past it to the gooey too soft uninspired noodles like you get at a cafeteria.

First of all, start with a huge pot of cold water. Once it comes up to the boil, throw in a fair amount of salt for the volume of water so you get a layered effect of taste. If you wait to salt the pasta after it's cooked it tends to sit on top, not soaked in like if you had cooked it into it.

Second, you don't really need to put any oil into the boiling water to prevent sticking. If you have a large enough volume of water the pasta will "dance" and not stick together at all. Though I like to stir it every now and then with a pasta fork to make sure, especially if it's long noodles.

Or you can break all the proper rules like I do when I'm hard-pressed for time: use a small volume of water to boil and stir constantly. It can get tricky unless you are used to how the pasta is supposed to look when just cooked properly. So, before you break all the rules, first learn them! :)

When you go to drain the pasta, make sure you save a little pasta water, about one cup or so, that has all that starch and vitamins from the processing. Use that to marry your sauce or sauteed veggies to the noodles, thickening the sauce without added butter or oil so you save on calories!

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*** Chef Giada from Food Network is always showing how to make delicious simple Italian food quickly and this recipe is so easy!


Chef Giada De Laurentis

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ease of preparation: easy


• 12 ounces penne pasta
• 1 (8 1/2 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
• 1 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, basil, and garlic in a food processor just until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

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