Beating a durum for pasta: Make sure it’s a firm favourite


Beating a durum for pasta: Make sure it’s a firm favourite

Thursday is International Pasta Day. Here’s how to produce the perfect al dente dish

Hilary Biller

Organised by the IPO (International Pasta Organisation), World Pasta Day has been held on October 25 since 1998 to celebrate the pillar of the Mediterranean Diet, recognised as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by Unesco.
Here’s how to get the dish right:
Cook pasta just before serving. If the pasta will stand before being eaten add a little olive oil to it and toss through gently with your hands. Cover to prevent it from drying out.
No Italian worth their salt would consider breaking long pasta for cooking. The long pasta that sticks out of the pot will cook as the submerged portion will soften enough to allow the strands to slip into the water.
Proper cooking in a large deep pot and draining in a colander is essential for success.
Pasta, both fresh and dried, is cooked in plenty of water to which 15ml (1 tbsp) has been added and brought to a rolling boil before the pasta is added.
Pasta is always cooked with the lid off.
Fresh pasta cooks in less than half the time of dried pasta.
We tend to overcook pasta. Italians enjoy pasta cooked al dente which means it still has a bite.
Contrary to popular belief oil is NOT added to the cooking water. It does not prevent the pieces of pasta from sticking together; instead it coats the pasta which prevents the sauce from adhering to it.
When draining pasta save at least 100ml of cooking water to return to the pasta so that the sauce and pasta combine well.
Pasta is traditionally made from hard durum wheat flour. Gluten-free pasta has become freely available, so check cooking instructions on the pack.

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