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Fresh Pasta:Peggy's 10 Tips to Perfect Pasta
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1. Do not not answer the telephone while cooking.
2. Keep your fresh pasta refrigerated.
3. Separate the strands of fresh pasta.
4. Cook your fresh pasta in a large pot.
5. Always start with cold water.
6. Salt and oil your pasta water.
7. Frequently stir the pasta while cooking.
8. Do not overcook your fresh pasta.
9. Make the sauce before cooking your pasta.
10. Do not rinse your fresh pasta after cooking.
1. Do not not answer the telephone while cooking.
You will jeopardize tip #8.
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2. Keep your fresh pasta refrigerated.
Unless you're going to cook your fresh pasta right away, refrigerate or freeze it until use. It will keep at least one week (check the expiration date) in the refrigerator, or up to six months in the freezer. (Put the entire unopened package into a zipper-lock plastic freezer bag if you're going to freeze it and freeze it before the expiration date.)
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3. Separate the strands of fresh pasta.
Because fresh pasta is soft, it has a tendency to stick together. It is absolutely necessary to pull the strands apart before cooking. You should end up with a big mound of individual strands on your countertop. Scoop up this mound and drop it all at once into rapidly boiling water.
Do not rely on the boiling action of the water to separate the strands! (TIP: If you're having difficulty separating the strands, it's usually because the pasta is still too cold. Let it come to room temperature first and it will come apart much easier.)
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4. Cook your fresh pasta in a large pot.
Your pasta will cook evenly and taste better if cooked in lots of rapidly boiling water. Use at least 6 quarts of water (in an 8 quart pot) for one package of fresh pasta, or 9 quarts of water (in a 12 quart pot) for two packages together.
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5. Always start with cold water.
Starting with cold water ensures that your pasta won't pick up any "off" tastes from your hot water heater.
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6. Salt and oil your pasta water.
Use 1-2 tablespoons of both salt and oil (olive or canola) per gallon of water. (The salt will bring out more flavor and the oil will keep the pasta from sticking together and will help prevent the water from boiling over.)
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7. Frequently stir the pasta while cooking.
Your pasta will cook evenly and won't stick together if stirred at regular intervals.
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8. Do not overcook your fresh pasta.
Overcooked pasta tastes mushy, lacks flavor and texture, and falls apart. Pasta should be cooked al dente, or "to the tooth", meaning that it's tender but still firm. Please note that fresh pasta cooks 300-500% faster than dried pasta.
Approximate cooking times are noted on the labels. Approximate means just that--approximate. There are too many variables that make timing virtually impossible to do accurately and consistently. Instead, frequently test the pasta while it's boiling by biting into a strand to determine how cooked it is.
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9. Make the sauce before cooking your pasta.
Pasta waits for no one! Make sure your sauce is ready (or will be ready) the moment your pasta is done. Adding the sauce to the pasta immediately after cooking ensures that your pasta won't stick together in a hopeless clump. Once sauced, serve immediately!
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10. Do not rinse your fresh pasta after cooking.
The three exceptions are: 1) If the pasta is going to be used in a cold pasta salad, or 2) If the pasta is going to be used in a baked dish (like lasagne) or in a hot soup (like minestrone), or 3) If you accidentally overcooked the pasta and need to stop the cooking process in a big hurry.
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