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How to Make the Best Pasta: Use Cold Water!


Anyone with a passing love of Italian cooking has probably had the preferred method of cooking pasta drilled into their brain. The basic formula is simple: use a large pot and fill it with an ample amount of water. Bring the water to a roiling boil, and only then do you add the pasta to the pot. Stir the pasta until ready, drain, and then serve. Simple, right?rotini pasta in clear water

Not so fast. What if we told you that there was more than one way to prepare scrumptious pasta? What if we told you that you might get more texture out of your pasta if you prepared it in cold water?

You read that right – using the “cold water” method to prepare your pasta actually results in pasta that is more “al dente,” or “to the tooth,” than your typical batch of home cooked spaghetti. Some of the hard rules of cooking pasta are more flexible than you’ve been taught. So let’s dive into the secret alternative for pasta preparation: cooking the pasta with the “cold water” method!

Now, this title is a bit misleading. It’s impossible for pasta to cook properly if water remains cold throughout the process. However, the old adage “you can’t put pasta into the water until it’s boiling” is thrown out the window here. Many aspects of this cooking method will surprise you – you’re going to save time cooking because you’re actually going to use less water. The texture of the pasta will be firmer than if you used the traditional method, and yet the pasta will still be tender to taste.

Beth Hornback notes that the “cold water” method is best used with shorter pasta varieties like macaroni or penne. Try it out with these types of recipes first before attempting a dish like angel hair pasta.

Here’s how you can make perfect pasta using the “cold water” pasta method:

  • Pour the pasta into a medium-sized pot. Fill the pot with cold water to about an inch above the pasta. Generously salt the water.
  • Place the pot on a burner and set to medium-high heat. As the contents heat up stir the pasta occasionally.
  • Once the water comes to a boil test the pasta after 4 minutes. Keep testing the pasta every minute until at your desired texture.

As The Food Lab wisely points out, using a smaller pot than normal will allow the water to boil and the pasta to cook even faster, shedding minutes off your meal prep. By allowing the pasta to hydrate and soak up water while the water is cold you also speed up the cooking process, which in hot water occur one after the other.

In fact, if you soak pasta in room temperature water before you begin cooking it you can prepare “1 minute pasta,” as detailed over at Ideas in Food. By harnessing the power of water in your cooking you can change how you prepare pasta, saving time and energy while making a tastier meal.

Be sure to always use filtered water in your cooking to treat your family to better-tasting meals every day!

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