Italian-Australian cookbook author Silvia Colloca shares her rules for cooking the perfect pasta

A cookbook author has shared the biggest mistakes home cooks make when preparing pasta – including breaking spaghetti so it fits in a pot of water and adding oil to the cooking water.

Italian-Australian TV cook and food writer Silvia Colloca revealed her golden rules for cooking the perfect pasta dish every time.

In her new book Simple Italian, the 43-year-old mother said you should never break dried spaghetti before boiling it because long pastas are supposed to effortlessly twirl around a fork.

Italian-Australian TV cook and food writer Silvia Colloca (pictured) revealed her golden rules for cooking the perfect pasta dish every time

Italian-Australian TV cook and food writer Silvia Colloca (pictured) revealed her golden rules for cooking the perfect pasta dish every time

Italian-Australian TV cook and food writer Silvia Colloca (pictured) revealed her golden rules for cooking the perfect pasta dish every time

The perfect sauces for each pasta shape 

LONG: Balance long thin strands of pasta such as spaghetti, linguine or fusilli with light sauces

RIBBONS: Pair thicker, flatter ribbons such as tagliatelle, pappardelle and fettuccine with more robust sauces such as bolognese and ragu

SHELLS: Heavy cream or meat sauces

SHORT: Penne, rigatoni, farfalle and fusilli are fun and versatile shapes perfect for pasta salads, baked dishes and with chunkier sauces

TWISTS: Lighter, smoother sauces such as pesto go perfect with fusilli, strozzapreti, caserecce and gemelli

FILLED: Serve ravioli, tortellini or cappelletti with a light butter or oil sauce

MINI SHAPES: Orzo, fregola and risoni is perfect for hearty soups, stews and pasta salads

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‘Unless you are using your long strands as an addition to a soup, you should never break them so they fit in the pan more easily. Just use a bigger pan,’ she said.

Italians eat spaghetti by twirling forkfuls of long strands in a way that it doesn’t slip off or let the sauce drip from it. 

The pasta can hold sauce more efficiently but if you break it in half, you’ll have shorter strands which makes it harder to eat.

While many assume adding oil to the cooking water helps prevent pasta from sticking together, Silvia said the method actually does nothing.

‘If you do, the oil will float to the top, rendering it completely useless, then when you drain your pasta the oil coating will prevent the sauce from adhering properly,’ she explained.

Silvia said the trick to stop pasta from sticking together is to simply boil it in salted water, and stir it a few times while it’s cooking.

To cook the perfect al dente pasta, she said you should always boil instead of simmer.

‘Never cook your pasta over low heat or it will turn into a gluey mess. A fierce rolling boil is what is needed,’ she said.

Silvia added: ‘As a rule of thumb, al dente means cooking pasta for a minute or two less than you would instinctively think.

‘Once the pasta is removed from the water, the residual heat will continue the cooking process, and if you are tossing the pasta in a sauce, that too will count as cooking time.’

Last year, Italian chef Andrea Tranchero (pictured) - who worked in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world - revealed the dos and don'ts of cooking pasta

Last year, Italian chef Andrea Tranchero (pictured) - who worked in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world - revealed the dos and don'ts of cooking pasta

Last year, Italian chef Andrea Tranchero (pictured) – who worked in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world – revealed the dos and don’ts of cooking pasta 

Last year, Italian chef Andrea Tranchero – who worked in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world – revealed the dos and don’ts of cooking pasta.

‘The perfect pasta starts with the pasta. A delicious Italian dish needs a good quality base and so it’s very important that you choose a premium, good quality pasta to cook with,’ Mr Tranchero told Daily Mail Australia. 

‘Cooking water should be salty like the sea – I recommend approximately 7g of salt per litre of water – and boiling with big bubbles before you add the pasta in.’

The executive chef of Barilla said one of the biggest mistakes home cooks make is rinsing over cooked pasta with cold water.

‘This only washes away the starch on the pasta which actually helps to make your finished dish silky and smooth,’ he explained.

Not combining the sauce and pasta when serving is another error made by many cooks in the kitchen.

‘A lot of people don’t finish off cooking their pasta and sauce together in the pan and allowing it to absorb the beautiful sauce flavours,’ he said.

Link hienalouca.com

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