It has been documented that there are more than 350 different kinds of pasta. Each one has its own unique shape, texture, and cooking instructions. In many cases, pasta may be known by several different names even though they represent the same kind. One easy example is the fact that angel hair, a very thin type of spaghetti, is also referred to in restaurants as capellini.
That being said, even though pasta is pretty much main out of the same ingredients, the way that it is served varies and the way it is prepared is also determined by the shape and type of the pasta. One of the things that seasoned cooks run into is how to prevent their pasta from sticking together when it is cold. You may have heard some ways to handle this situation but you will be surprised to know that it is not correct.
Many people, when preparing pasta, put salt and oil in the water. This keeps the pasta from sticking while cooking, but if you are going to be eating it hot and adding sauce to it, the oil will prevent the sauce from adhering to the pasta. So how do you stop pasta from sticking together when you want to eat it cold?
How Do You Properly Cook Pasta?
One of the main things you have to remember when cooking pasta is that the water in your pot must come to a rolling boil. You should always add salt to the water because without it pasts is very bland. As soon as the water is at a rolling boil, add your pasta and cook it for the time that it recommends on the box.
As soon as you add the pasta to the boiling water make sure you stir it for a minute or two or it will stick while together or even worse, stick to the bottom of your pot. You do not have to cover your pot while the pasta is cooking.
Even though there is a time listed on the box of pasta, you can cook it a little less time if you are going to be cooking it further in a baked dish. The best way to check to see if your pasta is al dente is to take a piece out of the boiling water and taste it yourself. It should have just a little bite to it but not be chewy.
The Key to Keeping Pasta From Sticking When Cold
When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it with a colander. In most cases, you should not rinse the pasta but here is where you do rinse it if you are going to use it for a cold dish. Rinsing the pasta in cold water stops the pasta from cooking any further. It will even keep the pasta from sticking.
How Do You Prepare Pasta for a Cold Italian Pasta Salad?
One recipe that calls for pasta that is cold is an Italian pasta salad. This salad is especially popular during the summer months but can be found at parties any time of the year. This salad is easy to put together and the ingredients can be adjusted to your specific taste.
The most popular types of pasta used for the Italian pasta salad are rotini or fusilli. Both of these kinds of pastas are similar in shape and look like springs. This shape seems to catch the dressing better.
Cook either type of pasta in salted boiling water (about 2 tablespoons of salt) for about 7 minutes or according to the package instructions for al dente pasta. Drain it in a colander and quickly rinse it in cold water to stop it from cooking any further. This will also keep it from sticking. Let the pasta chill for about 10 minutes.
The salad is made with an Italian dressing that you can purchase already made or you can use your own recipe using olive oil, vinegar, and the herbs of your choice. When the pasta is cooled down, put it into a large bowl then add half of your Italian dressing.
Toss it coat the noodles then add the ingredients of your choice. Some of these could be: salami cut up, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cut up, red onion chopped, black olives, pepperoncini rings, or any of your own salad favorites. Add the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate.
What Is the Best Way to Make Macaroni Salad Without It Sticking?
Another type of salad that uses cold pasta is macaroni salad. This side dish can almost always be found at a picnic or cookout. It is a simple dish and is usually made with elbow pasta. There are several variations on this salad but you can always start with the basic recipe and add your own special touch as you go.
Start with a box of elbow pasta and add it to a pot of boiling salted water. Cook the pasta for about 8 minutes or according to the instructions on the box. Drain the elbows in a colander then immediately rinse in cold water so they will not stick for your salad. Put the pasta in a bowl and let it cool down while you get your additional ingredients together.
Most recipes call for mayonnaise as a base for this salad and once the pasta is completely coated you can add diced celery, chopped onions (this can be omitted if you prefer), chopped green or red peppers, and sliced olives if you like. You can also add small cherry or grape tomatoes if you want to add a fresh flavor and a dash of color. Put the macaroni salad in your refrigerator to completely chill for about 4 hours.
These are the main uses for chilled pasta, but you can also store extra cooked pasta in the refrigerator after it has been rinsed in cold water. Keep it in a plastic container and when ready to use you can add it to heated spaghetti sauce until it is heated through.