This is a post.
This is a post about pasta.
This is a post about how to cook pasta.
This is a post about how to cook pasta in cold water.
Beth, have you lost your mind? You can’t cook pasta in cold water. Did you take your baby brain pills today?
First of all, baby brain is a REAL THING. At least it feels real. Second of all, I know you can’t cook pasta in cold water. But, you can put pasta in a pot, cover it with cold water, and then boil it. In fact, if you do that, the pasta will turn out perfectly and you just might cook it that way all the time. We already unlearned how to cook quinoa, so now we’re going to unlearn how to cook pasta. Ready?
Ok, so the first thing to know is that this method only works with short pasta – think penne, macaroni, rotini, bow tie, etc. You can try it with long noodles but chances are you’ll end up with a mess. The good news is there are a plethora of short pastas to cook, so let’s get to it!
You are probably wondering why in the heck anyone would want to cook their pasta in cold water. I mean, we’ve all learned the Great Commandment of Pasta Cooking:
“Thou Shalt Add Thy Pasta to a Large Amount of Boiling Salted Water” ~ Barilla 1:1
No offense to the Pasta Gods, but there is another (better) way. By using the cold water pasta method, we accomplish a few important things:
1. The pasta takes less time to cook. In this method, a smaller volume of water is used, so it takes less time to boil. Also, the total cooking time is less because the pasta starts to cook as the water heats up. WIN for efficiency!
2. The texture of the pasta is better. Because the pasta is cooked gradually as the water comes to a boil, the texture remains “al dente” or “to the tooth”, which is perfect for things like pasta salads, baked pasta casseroles, etc. Basically, the pasta is firm and tender, but not mushy. Just as it should be.
3. Leftover starchy cooking water. This stuff is amazing. I’m going to share more about it in an upcoming post, but trust me, you want it.
Ok, let’s cook some pasta.
Put one package of your favorite short pasta into a big pot, and cover it with cold water by one inch, like so.
Bring the water to a boil, which should take about 8 minutes or so. Once the water comes to a boil, set the timer for 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Yes, it’s that precise. BIG TIME CAVEAT – this method works for gluten free pasta, but the cooking time varies. When I tested it with brown rice pasta, it took about three minutes longer. Start testing it at the 4:30 mark and again at one minute intervals until the pasta is cooked.
Now, we strain! Please, for the love of all that is good and tasty, do NOT pour the pasta water down the drain. Remove the pasta from the pot with a spider or similar handheld strainer (see photo above) into a bowl. Then, reserve at least 2 cups of the pasta water before you dispose of the rest. I’ve heard it does wonders for plants – I’m so trying that.
Now you have perfectly cooked pasta, what should you do with it?
Or you could simply top it with a simple tomato sauce like this one.
Oh, you’d like a recipe? Fair enough. And remember that pasta cooking water we set aside earlier? You’re gonna need it. So stash it in the fridge and get ready for goodness.
Off to take my baby brain pills, I mean vitamins.
Cold Water Pasta Method
- 1 12-16 ounces package short pasta (such as penne, rotini, macaroni, etc.)
- 1 Tablespoon salt (optional)
- Place pasta in a large pot, and cover with 1 inch of cold water.
- Bring to boil over high heat (will take approximately 8-10 minutes).
- Once the water has come to a boil, add salt if desired and set a timer for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
- When the pasta is cooked, strain it out of the cooking water into a large bowl and use as desired.