I’ve been cooking pasta wrong ….who knew?

by Destini on May 22, 2014

Well, I suppose any Chef with formal training could have told me. Or anyone who follows instructions on the box. But seriously, for years I’ve taken whatever pot that was clean(often the middle size pot), filled it with water and let it boil. Pop in that pasta and cook for 8-9min. Sample how well its done, drain, rinse with cold water and let it sit there till it was ready to be dished out on plates. Yeah, pretty dreadful. I clearly have not been giving pasta the respect it deserves. The only real changes in my cooking methods is that I will glance at the instructions on gluten-free pasta boxes more often than the regular.

Now I know I try and pretend to be some type of foodie,  I even tell you; my readers to cook pasta per the instructions on the box. Well I am happy to tell you I have been set straight.

Last week I had the privilege to be part of a blogger demonstration with Catelli gluten-free pasta and Chef John Higgins. Wasn’t to shabby of an evening.

Catelli recently has started rolling out a line of gluten-free pasta. We’ve been using the spaghetti quite a bit in our home. And honestly it has been the best texture, tasting and price of any gf pasta we’ve tried to date. When they contacted me a month ago to attend this demonstration via the Web since I live in Winnipeg and it was in Toronto, I was excited. Not every day do I get trained in cooking techniques personally by a Chef on TV or let alone someone who used to cook for the Queen. No biggie right?

Well I am here to share my pasta cooking revelations with you and just the event overall

Top 10 Pasta Cooking Tips from Chef John Higgins, Director, George Brown Chef School

* Pasta should be cooked according to the directions on the pasta box. For some recipes that require the pasta to be cooked in sauce following boiling, however, an al dente consistency is preferred (an al dente consistency has some bite and a pleasing resistance to the chew – not gummy or sticky). For such recipes, cut one to two minutes off the cooking time on the package.

* When cooking pasta, use a large pot. You will need one quart of water to approximately 100 grams of pasta.  Using a large pot will give the pasta room to boil and not stick together.

* Over-seasoning the water with salt – bringing it almost to the taste of the sea – will substantially enhance the flavour profile of the dish. As a rule of thumb, use 10 grams of salt for one litre of water and 100 grams of pasta.

* Never add oil to the water when cooking pasta.  It does not keep it from sticking together.  In fact, the oil creates a coating that prevents the sauce from adhering to the pasta. This is undesirable because you want the pasta to soak up the sauce.

* Always stir the pasta for about 45 seconds after adding it to boiling water.  Then, stir occasionally as the cooking process continues, especially during the first three minutes, as that’s when the pasta can stick together.

* To test if the pasta is ready, bite into a noodle. If the external noodle is soft and yellow in colour (indicating doneness) and the core is a chalky white colour (indicating that it is a little underdone), the pasta is ready to be removed from the water.

* Never rinse pasta after cooking, as it’s important to retain the starch to enable the sauce to coat.

* For some recipes that require the pasta to be cooked in sauce following boiling (see first bullet point), add the pasta to the sauce in a separate pot. Finish cooking the pasta in the sauce for the final minutes of cooking, allowing the starch to fully release from the pasta into the sauce, adding full flavour to the pasta and making the eating experience more enjoyable. 

* When making a pasta dish, think about the harmony of taste, texture and balance between noodle and sauce. Thin pasta strips, for example, work best with a classic tomato, seafood or pesto sauce. Thicker pasta cuts, such as fettuccine, are wonderful for a cheese or cream-based sauce. Filled pasta is ideal with a light tomato broth or cream sauce.

* Use herbs generously for added flavour. When using parsley – the most used herb in the Italian kitchen – don’t chop it, but rather, slice it with a sharp knife.  If you see a green stain when you cut herbs, that means your knife is not sharp and you are losing flavour.  For basil, another popular pasta-enhancing herb, tear the leaves rather than chop them to avoid bruising the herb. Always add herbs to the pasta at the last minute to retain their vibrant colour and natural flavour. To keep stored herbs fresher and longer, wrap them in a tightly-moistened paper towel, then place in a Ziploc bag in the fridge.

Simple, but seriously super effective help!

NOW FOR THE BEST PART!! A RECIPE!

This is what Chef made, and sadly because I wasn’t there….I never tried it. But obviously since then, I have made it and it’s a MUST for any BBQ’s this Summer!


Gluten-Free Macaroni-1Ginger-Edamame-Macaroni-Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg (340 g) CATELLI® Gluten Free Macaroni
  • 2 cups (500 mL) frozen edamame
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) each granulated sugar and water
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced fresh ginger *note from Destini, I would half this personally next time*
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil
  • 1 cup (250 mL) each diced red pepper and cucumber
  • 1 cup (250 mL) each shredded Napa or Chinese cabbage and carrot
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped green onions

Directions:

1.         Cook macaroni according for 3 to 3½ minutes. Drain in colander, then place pasta on a flat tray to cool. Once cooled, sprinkle with 1 tbsp (15 mL) of olive oil and mix gently with fingers.

2.         Blanche edamame in 2 cups (500 mL) of salted water for about 2 minutes and drain.

 3.         Meanwhile, whisk vinegar with sugar, water, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper until sugar is dissolved; whisk in oil. Add cooked edamame to mixture.

4.         Toss macaroni and edamame mixture with red pepper, cucumber, cabbage, carrot and green onion to combine. Serve immediately.

Tips:

·         Add hot sauce, chili flakes or diced jalapeno peppers for a little extra kick.

·         Serve alongside grilled chicken or fish such as salmon or trout.

·         This salad can be made ahead and reserved for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. If making ahead, reserve 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the dressing and add just before serving to moisten the salad.

·         For an equally delicious salad, replace the soy sauce with miso paste. Another gluten free option, miso paste (or fermented soy paste) is often found at the fresh sushi counter located in the produce department of many supermarkets.

·         Replace the granulated sugar with honey if preferred. *note from Destini, or 1 packet of Stevia*

Per serving (1¼ cups/300 mL): 334 calories, 14 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 560 mg sodium, 45 g carbohydrates, 3 g fibre, 8 g sugars, 8 g protein. Excellent source of vitamin C. 

Gluten-Free Macaroni-1

The colours ACK so amazing!

Gluten-Free Macaroni-1-2

I said it above, but it makes the BEST side for any BBQ. In fact, I will be making this for the Hubby’s Birthday BBQ party this WEEKEND!

ALRIGHT……you’ve made it this far, you clearly deserve a reward!  Did you really think I would have done all of the above if I couldn’t share this with you all? OF COURSE NOT! One lucky CANADIAN will have a chance to win one YEAR free of Catelli Gluten-Free Pasta!! Seriously, I am jealous of the winner! This stuff is GOOD. Please enter below, Giveaway is open from Today May 22nd till May 29th 12am central standard time. This giveaway is only open to Canadians.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, if you can’t wait for this AMAZING giveaway, here is a coupon for $1 off on the purchase of ANY Catelli® Gluten Free pasta product

This post was sponsored by  Catelli® Gluten Free, all opinions are my own.

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