Socail icons

google-plus.png    facebook.png        twitter.png 

How to Cook Pasta the Italian Way

Along with Two Authentic Sauces
Along with Two Authentic Sauces

      

 

Pasta and pizza are the most iconic of all Italian foods.


You all probably have heard spaghetti alla carbonara, or alla Bolognese, two of the most popular pasta recipes in the world (although we don't eat spaghetti with Bolognese sauce in Italy, we rather use tagliatelle or fettuccine. And we actually call "bolognese sauce" ragù!)

 

Spaghetti, the Italian way

 

I don’t have to tell you why pasta is good for your health. Nor why any kind of food, if consumed in excessive quantities is, on the other hand, not healthy at all. All you need to know from me is that pasta is quick to prepare, it comes in many different sizes and shapes and can be accompanied by an almost limitless number of sauces.

 

You can eat pasta every day and yet never have the same dish twice. Of course, pasta is very high in carbs, so it's certainly not a good idea to eat it every day, twice a day.

 

Anyway, I’m going to tell you how an Italian cooks his pasta, the Italian being me, my method being the quintessential way we cook pasta everywhere in the country. 

 

 

Cooking Pasta: Important Points

 

First point: “cooking pasta” means actually cooking the pasta and the sauce. While cooking the pasta itself is basically made by only one step “throw pasta in boiling water”, the sauce can be a more complicate affair. I will give you recipes for two easy sauces, very popular in Italy. Since the basic steps are more or less the same, you can go on and create your own sauce from there.

 

Second point: each kind of pasta has a cooking time, usually indicated on the package. Cook pasta for less than the cooking time, and it will remain hard. Go over the cooking time and it will become softer and softer. Go well beyond the cooking time and congratulations! You have inedible glue!

 

We Italians like our pasta “al dente”, that means a little hard. You usually get it “al dente” by cooking it for exactly the indicated cooking time. But beware: since foreigners often prefer their pasta soft, you may find on the package a cooking time that reflects this and advises you to cook the pasta for much more time than an Italian would. Since pasta is cheap, you can throw away a little and experiment until you find your perfect cooking time.

 

Third point: Just do me a favor, no ketchup. No ketchup. Repeat with me: “No ketchup. Ever.

 

 

Cooking Pasta: Ok, let’s start

 

Take a pot, fill it with water and put it on the stove, heat it until it boils. Put a lid on, to make it boil faster.

 

When the water boils, add salt. We use “sale grosso”, my dictionary calls it “cooking salt”. It’s salt in big grains of irregular shapes. You can use the finer table salt, it won’t change the flavor, but you will need a lot more and in my opinion it’s harder to measure the right quantity – but remember: I’m doing this on an almost daily basis, so I’m working out of habit here.

 

You may find that for you it’s easier to get the right quantity of salt by using table salt. The “right quantity of salt” is a personal taste affair, experiment until you find yours. Why must you wait until the water boils to add salt? Because salted water takes longer to reach boiling point. Adding salt right away won’t affect the final flavor, but it will lengthen the time it takes to get your dinner ready.

 

After adding salt, wait half a minute, then put the pasta in. Put the pasta in the water when it returns to a boil, not before, or you will ruin it!

 

Cook the pasta as indicated on the package, stirring the pasta often to avoid it sticking. Now, cooking pasta is simple and there are no secrets in it. But there is one trick. Pasta is like a sponge: it  absorbs the fluid in which it’s immersed. Cooking it immersed in water is ok, but cooking it immersed in the sauce is better! It will be flavoured by the sauce from the inside.

 

So here’s the trick: one minute before the cooking time is over pour one or two table spoons of cooking water from the pot in the pan where you are heating the sauce, then strain the pasta out of the water and pour it in the pan, mixing it with the sauce and ending the cooking time in there. Let it heat for a minute to a minute and a half, then take the pan from heat and serve your pasta.

 

That’s it: true Italian style pasta.

 

 

Cooking Pasta: Sauce Recipes

 

The first one is a classic tomato sauce. You’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Half onion
  • Pepper or chilli pepper
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh or canned tomatoes

 

Put a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan with the onion, add tomato sauce, a hint of pepper or finely minced chilli pepper, let it heat for 5-6 minutes stirring from time to time, pour the pasta in the pan, keep cooking for a minute more. When it’s ready, take out from heat, add a few leaves of basil and serve.

 

The second one is a sauce made with zucchini and shrimps. You’ll need:

  • Olive Oil
  • A couple of cloves of garlic
  • Fresh shrimps (
    you can boil them before using in this recipe. I never do that, but it’s a matter of taste)
  • Pepper
  • One zucchini (cut in rounds or sticks)

 

Put a table spoon of oil in a frying pan with the garlic, add the zucchini, the shrimps (without shells) and spray lightly with pepper. Let cook on low fire for 10 minutes stirring from time to time, then add the pasta and keep heating for a minute more, stirring the mix. When it’s ready, take out from heat and serve. There you are: authentic Italian pasta.

 

Cooking pasta the Italian way: fettuccine with shrimps and courgette
Ph. depositphoto/genious2000de

 

Wow, I’ve written a lot of words for something that is actually very easy and quick to do, so let’s summarize:

  1. Fill a pot with water and heat on a stove
  2. When the water boils, add salt
  3. Wait 30 seconds and put the pasta in the pot
  4. Wait the cooking time less one minute, stirring from time to time
  5. When there’s one minute left, take 2 spoons of cooking water and add them to the pan where you are heating the sauce
  6. Strain the pasta
  7. Pour the pasta in the pan with the sauce
  8. Cook for one minute, stirring
  9. Take out of heat and serve

 

To save time, I usually prepare the sauce and start heating it while I wait for the water to boil and for the pasta to cook. You can also prepare a variety of sauces in advance and freeze them, taking them out of the freezer when you need them, letting them unfreeze naturally or microwaving them, then heating in the pan while the pasta is cooking up. You can also use commercially made sauces, there’s nothing wrong in that.

 

Remember: the only trick is to heat the sauce in a pan, cook the pasta one minute less than suggested, then pour it along with a couple spoons of cooking water in the pan and finish cooking the sauce and the pasta together in the pan.

 

Please check also "How NOT to cook pasta".

 

 

Buon appetito!

 

Edited by Francesca Bezzone

What do you think ?
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
history handbags
  Rod Stewart asked what would become of his lover when they stripped her of: '...the handbags and the glad rags that your grandad had to sweat so that you could buy them.' Mrs. Thatcher called hers her 'trusty companion' and the word 'handbagging' was invented to describe her browbeating tactics. Some famous handbags in literature include the bag which contained Jack/ Earnest in Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest and Anna Karenina's red velvet handbag which she threw
Tuesday, January 24th, 2017
italian designer handbag
Italian Handbag Brands Part I   Italian Bag by Ermanno Scervino, Summer 2015 collection As mentioned in the introduction to Italian designer handbags, there are some Italian brands that began life as creators of bags or other accessories, and others that began as clothing labels which branched out later into designer handbags. In the first three parts of the article on the various Italian brands that carry designer handbags, the brands which started life as bag or accessory makers
Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
Italian Fashion Accessories: Fantasy and Durability   Italian Accessories: Valentino 2009   Italy is known for its big Fashion Houses, for the brands that are conquering the world, one country at a time. Designer shoes and handbags made in Italy are all the rage, they can be seen on any and all kinds of celebrities. And this trend is not new. The Italian accessories brand Gucci first became famous for its Constance bags, with a hobo shape, double strap, and a big H clasp, which was carried
Thursday, February 13th, 2014
Shoes are considered simply a type of garnment, something to wear simply because you need it by those who are not fashion enthusiast. Although some people could regard shoes merely as an unavoidable accessory worn in modern times to walk and protect feet, scarpe in Italy are really important to people in the field of fashion. They represent an additional element to the style and they have their weight in everyday activities. We already know that women, no matter their country of origin, love
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Italian-Made Wallets for Men & Women I went hunting for a wallet recently. I love wallets. I guess it's because they're so close to the money, right? In this article, we'll focus on three men's wallets and three ladies' wallets - all from Italian designers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. MEN'S WALLETS From Salvatore Ferragamo, we have this fantastic leather wallet. Inside, you'll find six key rings to keep all your keys organized! The wallet has the Ferragamo logo emblazoned on
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Custom Italian Shoes to Suit You Recently we referred to the increasing attraction for Italian custom-made clothes among discerning clients. This attraction extends beyond jackets, suits, shirts and trousers to (would you believe it) shoes! For all of us who are accustomed to thinking of Italian shoes as being a mark of distinction, good taste and quality, it comes as some surprise that there is yet another step upwards on the ladder of selective buying. In a recent
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Contemporary Jewelry from Venice Carnival season is almost over in Venice. The splendor of the palaces along the Grand Canal, the majesty of St. Mark's Square and its gilded basilica, the bustling traffic on the waters of the lagoon are all major players, not just backdrops, which add to the unique flavor of the Venetian carnival. Magnificent costumes are paraded slowly, silently and regally through the streets and squares of Venice, pausing to allow tourists to
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Prada Designer Handbags Prada began as a luggage brand, but emerged into the handbag market with its prima donna, Miuccia Prada, who shot into limelight with her simple, functional yet stylish nylon bags. With the distinctive triangular label, Prada nylon bags became very popular. They retain a healthy demand even today, and have been seen on stars like Kate Winslet.     But over the years, Prada bags have evolved and reached the stratosphere of designer handbags, becoming the “it
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Handheld Fans The Greeks called handheld fans 'scepters of feminine beauty'. These pretty and delicate accessories have always been admired, but they have not always been in fashion. The sight of Kirsten Dunst as the French Queen, Marie Antoinette, holding a rococo fan in the eponymous 2006 film has heightened interest in these objects and led to their revival in fashion recently. Jovovich Hawk have featured fans from their collection at the Los Angeles Fashion Week. Handheld fans have also
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Halle Berry as the face of Versace Bags in 2006 Britney Spears Versace As discussed in Italian Designer Handbags Part I, in the Part IV and Part V of this series we describe the Italian Designer bags that come from fashion houses that started with clothing, but have gone on to make statement handbags. Versace Designer Handbags Versace as a brand has always been known for its ornateness. Gianni Versace had a taste for indulging the senses, often using a lot of gold and metal in his clothing
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Winter Weather Accessories for Ladies When I was a little girl, my mother used to get so angry with me. I hated to go out in the winter with a scarf, gloves or a hat. Especially the winter hat. I didn't want to sacrifice my hair just to remain warm. Oh no. Not me.   Now that I'm older and a mother myself, I realize the importance of winter weather accessories. I will never leave my house on a frozen day without at least a scarf and leather gloves. I won't! Alright, maybe I'm still
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Marilu Fernandez, Coral Designer While traveling through Sicily, I had the honor of meeting the creativity and brains behind Marilu Fernandez, a coral design firm that is taking the European fashion accessories industry by storm. I was introduced to the dynamic mother and son duo in their Palermo showroom for a preview party. She is a woman of elegance and refinement, but devoid of the pretentious air that often succeeds. I was taken around the showroom, where we paused at each piece and
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Fendi Designer Handbags When you talk about Italian handbags, Fendi is one of the first names that springs to mind. Fendi began as a family business specializing in fur and leather goods, and carried on with this expertise, till the advent of Karl Lagerfield, who turned Fendi overnight into a brand sensation. The Fendi Zucca logo became the talk of the fashion world in the late sixties, and the legend of the Fendi bags was born. Fendi bags were stiff and hard before the reign of Lagerfield
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Carnival season is almost over in Venice. The splendor of the palaces along the Grand Canal, the majesty of St. Mark's Square and its gilded basilica, the bustling traffic on the waters of the lagoon are all major players, not just backdrops, which add to the unique flavor of the Venetian carnival. Magnificent costumes are paraded slowly, silently and regally through the streets and squares of Venice, pausing to allow tourists to snap numerous photographs that will help them to bring back to
Friday, June 1st, 2012
The Necessary Accessory A tie is a great finishing piece. It's an accessory that, for lack of a better term, ties a suit together. In a previous article, we've looked at some elegant Italian men's suits. Now that we've done that, we can take a few moments to view some wonderful Italian-made ties. Armani gives us this fantastic gray, silk tie. It's neutral and showcases the Armani logo. I would have to say that this piece is a great accompaniment to just about any color (or kind) of suit.
Friday, June 1st, 2012
The Jeweling Duke: The Story of Fulco di Verdura Ashley Rudd looked gorgeous in them in the movie, DeLovely. Katherine Hepburn wore them in The Philadelphia Story. They were favorites of many other movie stars, such as Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford, and celebrities, such as the Duchess of Windsor, of whom the photographer, Horst, said that, "Verdura alone knew how to make her a Duchess." Often whimsical and playful, but still elegant, Fulco di Verdura's exquisite jewels
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Beautiful Pearls and Italy Pearls and elegance go together. They have an undeniable appeal and celebrities have been seen wearing them recently, celebrities young and old. Not only are the classic pearl necklaces back, we are also seeing the resurgence of pearls as funky accessories. They are being won in various colors to jazz up an outfit, they are being worn in long strings to create a look of bohemian elegance---in short, pearls are back in the mainstream. Whether you are a woman of mature
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Italian Made Women's Watches I remember my first Italian-made watch. I got it for my First Communion. I was in second grade. It was gold. It was elegant. It was so pretty. And I lost it. In the coatroom of the Catholic school I attended. My parents were so upset; but, not as upset as I was. That watch was perfect. It had a thin, bracelet strap with a ring clasp. The time face was black with gold Roman numbers. Ohhhh. How I still miss it!   Okay, that's enough reminiscing
Friday, June 1st, 2012
A new shoe collection from Miuccia Prada's Miu Miu line always unleashes a frenzy of anticipation in the fashion world and the recent reveal of the Miu Miu Spring 2011 Shoe Collection is no different. The line is pure Miu Miu: inventive and quirky, retro-inspired and feminine, with focus on the details.   Spotted: Polka Dot Clogs Fashionistas who were obsessed with Miu Miu's iconic cat-print clogs last season will have a chance to get a revamped version for spring. This time the studded
Friday, June 1st, 2012
History of Makeup and Accessories Shoes Unstable like the mood of time and transitional as vanity, the search for beauty is old as man (and obviously woman). The knowledge of cosmetics and pharmacology in the old Greece and oriental civilizations were so deep to reach unchanged the 17th century. The Romans, even though originally characterized by a certain simplicity of their local costumes, easily got seduced by their care of the body and …"to look good" (lets think about Marco Porcio
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Shoes of Reality Editor Note: This article is not about Italian shoes in particular; but, it is a fun to read article about women's shoes so I decided to add it anyway to my fashion section - An Italian shoes article can be found here. sexy womens Italian shoe wild So, I’m standing before a shoe aisle thinking to myself 'Why?'. Why, I ask you, do women have to scrounge around for shoes that look sexy and alluring, but do not kill their pocket books or toe joints?This is a
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Dynasty of Jewels Torrini Logo, Florence, Italy The Torrini Dynasty has its roots back in the fourteenth century when Jacopus Torrini of Scarperia, Italy began crafting fine suits of armor for the knights of the land. He registered his unique trademark in 1369 in Florence with the Guild of Iron Wrights, Armorers, and Nailmakers. For his mark, he cleverly combined a spur, symbolizing the armor, and a half clover, symbolizing the good luck he wished his business to have.
Friday, June 1st, 2012
  I'm always on the lookout for beautiful things. I have an eye for fashion and for beauty. It's a gift. Yes, I joke a little bit; but, I am completely entranced by jewelry. The song does say Diamonds are a girl's best friend, after all, doesn't it? Italy has a fine tradition of jewelry-making, stemming back thousands of years. In fact, 3,000 years ago ancient Etruscans, the people who lived in what is present-day Tuscany, began working with gold. Their creations were stunningly
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Vincenza Oro: World Premier Jewelry Fair, Vincenza, Italy Each year, over 1600 vendors and over 20,000 buyers travel to Vincenza Italy for the undisputed king of artisan jewelry expositions. VincenzaOro1 is a decidedly international event. Almost half of the visitors, and over three hundred and fifty of the vendors, came from overseas expressly for the show. Because it is held at the beginning of each year, the fair is considered the inaugural jewelry event of the new
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Audrey Hepburn "A pure hand needs no glove to cover it," Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, yet people have been attracted to gloves and mittens since ancient times. The first gloves were developed to fight off the cold and later they were used for gardening and rough work. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all wore gloves. Homer wrote in The Odyssey that Laertes wore gloves while gardening to protect himself from brambles. Often the peasants in these societies wore three-fingered gloves
Friday, June 1st, 2012
A History of Bulgari Brilliant Jewelry "Diamonds are a girl's best friend", Marilyn Monroe once quipped. The many movie stars who have been adorned with beautiful Bulgari jewels would surely agree.   Below is a clip of Bvlgari's beautiful jewelry, from writing tools to the extravagant necklaces:   Italy's greatest jeweler, Bulgari had humble origins. Its founder, Soutirios, came from the tiny Greek village of Kallarrytes in the area of Epirus, near the Albanian border.
Friday, June 1st, 2012
The 10 Sexiest Italian Shoes Some women dream about Brad Pitt. I dream about shoes. Beautiful shoes. Sexy shoes. Gorgeous Italian-made shoes. I love Italian shoes. They are sexy, sophisticated and stunning. Don't take my word for it; check out these pictures and descriptions of some hot and sexy Italian shoes brought to you from all over the web. sexy shoe 1) Just like you need a little black dress, every woman needs a gorgeous pair of black heels. These mules from
Friday, June 1st, 2012
From Actors to Royalty: Damiani Brad Pitt chose Damiani to make his engagement ring for Jennifer Aniston and their wedding rings. Prince Emmanuel of Savoy also requested the company to make the wedding rings for his marriage to French actress Clotilde Courou. Movie stars, including Isabella Rossellini and Milla Jovovitch have proudly worn their jewelry. Beautiful Gwyneth Paltrow is proud to be their new face. The famous jewelry firm is the epitome of Italian style,
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Dolce and Gabbana Designer Handbags Dolce & Gabbana has never shied from over-the top-sexiness, and this shows up in its bags. The brand’s biggest champion is Madonna, and the designer duo have designed time and again for her tours.     Dolce & Gabbana is all about shiny, flashy, in-your-face fashion. Patents, foil finishes, obvious zips, riotous color are all features of bags from this brand. Though they do make serious looking stuff like the Miss New Easy Way or the Dolce
Friday, June 1st, 2012
From Cavemen to the Catwalk Trying on a pair of stiletto Gucci boots, hard on the outside, buttery soft on the inside, can reduce the most sane and poised woman into a gooey mess. There are few experiences in life that can rival the sheer pleasure and excitement women feel when shopping for shoes at Fendi and Prada in Italy. Glancing at the shelves of possibilities, their eyes light up and their hearts flutter like that first time they fell in love. Italian High Heels and Fishnet Stockings
Friday, June 1st, 2012
Italian Jewelry by Arando Arando Necklace Italian jewelry is known all over the world for its astounding ability to find the beautiful in the simple, the aesthetic in the functional. But in our modern times, very few Italian jewelry houses create pieces that are more art than craft. Master Antonio Rando, the founder of Arando, creates timeless jewelry and watches that revolve around universal themes, expressing them according to his own unique vision. Arando: Handcrafted Jewelry and Watches