Common Pasta Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Cooking pasta is quick and easy, but sometimes a few minor mistakes can prevent your dish from being the best is can be. Read below for common pasta missteps and how to avoid them for all your pasta dishes to come!

Mistake: Not adding salt to boiling water.

  • Tip: Adding salt to pasta water will not only help enhance the flavor of pasta, but will also reduce any stickiness. It is recommended to use about two tablespoons per four quarts of water, however you can add more or less depending on the sauce you plan to use – if it already has quite a bit of salt content, use less salt in the water.

Mistake: Pouring out all of the used pasta water.

  • Tip: Save about half a cup of the pasta water to add back into a sauce. The starchiness of the water will help thicken up a sauce, without needing to add extra ingredients like heavy cream or butter.

Mistake: Throwing out leftover pasta.

Mistake: Adding cheese into sauce while it is cooking.

  • Tip: Wait until the pasta is plated for at least 30 seconds before adding in cheese. While you may get eager to add in cheese while the sauce is cooking, doing this can cause it to separate and make your sauce oily.

Mistake: Using the same pasta shapes for all sauce varieties.

  • Tip: Different shapes pair better with different sauce types.
    • Thin, delicate pastas, like angel hair or thin spaghetti, are better served with light, thin sauces.
    • Thicker pasta shapes, like fettuccine, work well with heavier sauces.
    • Pasta shapes with holes or ridges, like rotini or rigatoni, are perfect for chunkier sauces.

For more pasta cooking tips, click here.

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