Day 12: How To Cook The Perfect Pasta

Whether you’re cooking fresh, homemade, or dried pasta, getting it right is a true skill to have!

Getting that perfect point of a slight bite or ‘al dente’, is the middle ground between too hard and a bowl of mush.

Pasta is also AMAZING!

Delicious. Versatile. Fun to eat. It’s up there with one of my favourite staples. It’s been stigmatised over the years by various diets but that’s not was rebalance is about.

Rebalance is all about balance and pasta is up there with one of the most delicious foods ever!

The best pasta I’ve ever eaten was in Sardinia! I ate different types every day and each was divine! Every day I walked along the beach to this tiny restaurant that reminded me of a British ice cream hut. They had an array of different dishes with my favourite being spaghetti all vongole. Once you have the real thing, you then know how it’s meant to taste when making it yourself.

Choosing Your Pasta

From my point of view it really doesn’t matter if you make your own, buy fresh or buy dried. All will give you a good or great end result flavour wise.

It’s important to know though that in terms of flavour, you’ll get completely different results.

Focusing on simple plain pasta with no additional flavourings, you can expect the following:

  • Homemade pasta is very delicate but also rich. It truly tastes like pasta.
  • Fresh shop bought pasta is slap bang in the middle of homemade and dried. It always has this fresher flavour but like it’s also been dried? It’s not bad by any means but it would be my last choice.
  • Dried pasta tastes great but less rich than the other two. Normally it’s made without eggs hence the difference.

What Should ‘Al Dente’ Feel Like

Al dente pasta feels like there’s some resistance when you bite in to the pasta.

If you bite in to the pasta and it’s hard, then that’s too much. The resistance should be there but not too hard or too easy.

Visually speaking, if you bite in to the pasta and you see a white circle in the middle, that’s under cooked pasta. So texture wise it’ll feel hard and visually you’ll have this circle.

This pasta is my homemade linguine with fresh basil pesto!

Cooking Homemade Pasta

Homemade pasta doesn’t need long cooking times at all. The trick is to have your water at perfect temperature before adding the pasta instead of adding it when it comes up to the boil.

Also use a pan that’s bigger than the amount of pasta you have. If you use a small pan with lots of pasta, it could stick together and become one giant pasta ball.

  1. Bring a large pan of water up to the boil.
  2. Add your pasta and cook for 3 minutes. Test a piece. If it’s got a slight bite then drain and serve. If it’s not cooked, keep cooking and checking at 1 minute intervals.

Cooking Fresh Shop Bought Pasta

Fresh shop bought pasta will have it’s own cooking instructions on the packet which is important to follow.

Normally they’ll be longer homemade pasta but shorted than dried.

Here, again bring your pan to the boil and ensure it’s big enough. 1 or 2 minutes before the packet says it’s done, start trying for the al dente feel.

Cooking Dried Pasta

Like shop bought fresh pasta, follow the packet instructions but with my tip.

Start testing 1 to 2 minutes before the packet says it’s done.

Normally dried pasta takes around 10 to 15 mins to cook, so start tasting at the 8 minute mark.

My clam pasta using clams local to the UK and homemade pasta. While not like it’s Sardinian version, still delicious!

Putting It All Together

After some knife skill practice tomorrow we’re going to be putting it all together with my Pasta in Tomato Sauce recipe.

A true classic and something everyone should know how to do right.

Once you know this basic, you can start experimenting with additional flavours such as meat, shellfish, veggies and herbs!

Ingredients list

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • Dried oregano
  • 1 white or red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Olive oil

Let’s Connect!

Along with the daily journal posts here, each Wednesday at 12pm BST I’ll be going live on my instagram @therebalancechef to recap on the week’s progress and show you around my kitchen. Depending on the weather you might even meet my rescue hens!

The main point of this challenge is to have fun with it, learn new skills and refresh old ones.

I want to see your creations so don’t forget to tag me and show off what you’ve been doing!

I’m taking part in the Rebalance May Cookery Challenge! Check it out here http://www.therebalancechef.co.uk

More Sardinia Pics!

This holiday was a special one because it’s rare I get to take a holiday let alone to somewhere so beautiful.

Normally if I go away I spend my time within the UK doing long weekends here and there around work. I feel lucky to live in such a beautiful country so there’s always plenty to explore.

It was also amazing though to visit Sardinia and speak to the locals about everything from food to them asking me if I had Italian blood in me because I was so passionate hahaha!

If you get the chance to go I really recommend it! The food including pasta, pizza and ice cream is some of the best I’ve ever tasted! They also have a local craft beer which is delicious and white wine that I had way too much of haha!

Everyone I met also had a fierce pride about being Sardinian as well which I loved. Everything of there’s was better! Their tomatoes were the best! Their beer the best!

It meant I got to try things that I didn’t even know existed simply due to the fact they wanted to showcase it.

When you scroll through these pics you’ll wonder why it looks like I’m in the sea in a dress.

Well you’d be right! I am in a dress haha!

I went on a wild dolphin boat trip not realising we stopped off for a light dinner on the boat followed by a swim. I hadn’t brought a suit but being me thought ‘fuck it’ and jumped straight in 😀 I was the first one in, the last one out and the captain after an initial shock and the words ‘I thought she was British?!’ laughed so hard that everyone soon joined.

Us Brits know how to have fun as well 😉 below the pomp and ceremony haha.