Cooking pasta basics

Ask any Italian about pasta and you’d see how passionate they become. And there are so many different types of Pasta, its quite mind boggling. Like this Pasta Al Limone. Have you ever had lemon in your pasta before?

Pasta Al Limone

The first few times when I cooked pasta, though it tastes fine to me, Cart would then give it a try. The gentleman that he is, he never complains but gently shares with me tips on how to make it better. So I’m sharing some of the few crucial points with you πŸ™‚

Here are a few basics when making pasta.

1. Dont overcook the pasta.

Italians immediately delete points on a pasta if it is not al dente. Al dente basically means that it is cooked just right with a bite to it and pasta which is cooked too long will be soft and loses this bite.

To cook the pasta, you take a pot of water and add some salt. Wait for it to boil before adding in the pasta. While there are many different types of pasta, most pasta packs would have a recommended cooking time.

Barilla Pasta Recommended Cooking Time
Like this Vermicelli cooks in 11 minutes

But if there isnt, you could take a piece and bite on it to see if it is cooked or not. And then serve it immediately with your pasta sauce. Never leave your cooked pasta by itself for too long. It’ll getΒ soggy.

And do not throw your cooked pasta on the wall. It’ll be a hassle to clean up afterwards.

2. Pasta sauce basics

After observing how Cart cooks his pasta, while there are many variants in the sauce, there are basically two different bases. And these starts with the soffritto.

A) The first soffritto is in a pan with olive oil. You stir fry some chopped onion, carrot and celery.

Once it softens, add your bottled tomato sauce or fresh cut tomatoes and some salt for taste. Never use tomato ketchup because it has additives and it changes the taste. Tomato sauce should only contain tomatoes.

When its cooked, you scoop the sauce on to your pasta, add some parmiggiano cheese on top and mix well.

With this basic step, you could add some ground meat while frying the soffritto and you’ll end up with Pasta al Ragu. And you could even use this sauce to make lasagna!

B) The second soffritto is to fry some garlic with a little bit more olive oil. When the garlic is brown and the oil has been infused, you add the cooked pasta in and chopped parsley on top. Mix well and you get Aglio Oglio!

Or if you like, while frying the soffritto, you could add some chilli and add tomato sauce for Arrabbiata!

Penne Arrabbiata. Death by tray.

Seafood works very well too for this soffritto. You could add salmon, clams, mixed seafood, prawns … what ever you likeΒ 

But just remember never add cheese for the second soffritto because the flavours clash together.

Buon Appetito πŸ™‚

I think that’s all for now in the basics of cooking pasta. If you have any other tips to share, or have any questions please feel free to comment below πŸ™‚

18 Replies to “Cooking pasta basics”

  1. I don’t know how my pasta would rate to Cart’s taste buds but I find that a lot of places here, at least the ones I’ve been to, do not cook their pasta enough or it’s over done. -1000 for disgusting pasta.

  2. Thanks for this, Rinaz! Just a question though. So should we cook the pasta first or the sauce first? Coz you said the pasta should be served immediately, but the sauce takes time to cook, no? But if we make the sauce first and then the pasta, the sauce will get cold. I izh confused πŸ˜›

  3. Aww … I think Cart would love your pasta! What types have you made so far?

    But yeah, a lot of places in Singapore doesn’t cook their pasta well. Some add in too much toppings and wierd herbs for their pasta which isnt traditional to say the least πŸ˜›

  4. Sylv : Normally I’d cook the sauce first and while the sauce is cooking, I’d put on the pot of water to boil. Only when the water is boiling then I put the dry pasta in and then drain the water away.

    Usually you can judge by sight so that you could see both the pasta and the sauce to be done cooking at the same time.

    But even if the sauce is already cooked, its alright since the heat from the cooked pasta will make it warm anyway πŸ™‚

    I hope this answers your question πŸ˜€

  5. Hello Marina!

    The only tip I have to share is that sometimes it’s good to warm the pasta and the sauce together for a while in the pan over the fire at the very end of the process. Let me know if you try πŸ˜‰

  6. Thanks for the tips Marina!

    I love pasta! I usually cook them on Thursdays in my household. Other days are the usual Assam pedas, kari, sambal tumis, etc..etc…

    I usually use in the can ones mixed with minced beef or chicken meat, capsicum and mushrooms. We all love pedas/spicy food so I usually add cili padi and bawang goreng sprinkled on top instead of parmesan cheese. Nice also lah… A bit of a crunch from the bawang goreng. I think ur hubby Cart would not approve of this…

    *Hides away…*


  7. Emanuele

    Ah, thats a good tip. Thank you!

    Sometimes I do that for arrabbiata so that it coats better on the penne πŸ˜€


    Wow, I miss Assam Pedas, Kari and Sambal Tumis … nyam nyam!

    But I think you might want to try to make pasta from scratch rather than the bottled one, I think it’ll taste better and its fresher too πŸ™‚

    I guess you could use bawang goreng too, but I wouldn’t call it Italian pasta … hehehehe!!! πŸ˜›

  8. Wow!! This is an amazing post!! I love it. It’s simple and informational and yet so much fun to read!!

    And the pasta recipes are really useful for new cooks.. Yay!!!

  9. Ah Marina, just let me tell you one thing. If you ever write a POST on your blog about this kind of topic, we call it a…
    POSTasciutta Ahahahahaha!

  10. Sylv

    Yeah, some owners are stricter when it comes to cooking. No worries, soon you could cook to your heart’s delight πŸ™‚


    Eh? Non capisco … Is it something like prosciutto? πŸ˜›

  11. I like making spaghetti, as it’s called here. It’s easy n even for last minute decision, I could throw in frozen minced meat to thaw with the onions sauce cooking in the pan πŸ™‚

    I hv been wanting to try pasta with big meatballs (saw it on a film) n set abt doing it. It was a disappointment bec the stock from the meat doesnt interact with the sauce, making it bland.

    I always use canned tomato paste as well as tomato ketchup to create a thicker sauce. And … 2 spoonful of sambal oelek to give it punch as how my hubs likes it. I hv tried it with fresh tomatoes but it’s not to our liking bec it’s so diluted.

    I love fresh tagliatelle but it’s expensive. Even with a Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, I couldnt emulate his recipe πŸ™ Same for the lasagne sheets.

    Italian food r widely sold here but we need to get us some real italiano bambino’s here to show us how to make the real thing :-p

  12. Thanks for the pasta tips! It is a family favorite and in fact, we just tried Kamut Khorasan Wheat pasta and it was so delish. I also always try to have some olive oil on hand while boiling to keep it from sticking together πŸ™‚

  13. Death by Tray… that’s a good one. Hilarious vids.
    By the way, I just surfed for Singaporeans in Roma… and found your site per caso.. So I thought I’d just say hello, since I am here! Feel free to write me at the address I was required to leave behind!

  14. Such a superb recipe, simple to follow directions, easy to make as well as simply scrumptious, my husband and I adored it, thx a lot.

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