This Step Prevents Pasta From Sticking
Revisit this old pasta trick so you can cook pasta ahead.
Cooking pasta may be second nature to you by now. You boil water, add enough salt to make it taste like the ocean, and add in the pasta. You cook it until its al dente or just tender enough to your desired softness. You drain the water, reserving about a cup of the pasta cooking water just in case your pasta sauce needs a little thickening when you toss the two ingredients together. You finally toss the pasta and the sauce together and serve it immediately.
That's what we've been told to do it for many years now.
No where in these steps do you see the step to add oil to the pasta. That's because that advice is older thinking. It used to be that people either added a little oil to the water or to the pasta. This was usually done to prevent it from sticking together before its tossed with the sauce.
However, when it comes to preparing pasta now, this thinking has been debunked. You've been told to not toss it in oil after cooking.
The rationale behind this tip is that the oil prevents the pasta sauce from sticking to the pasta noodles. The oil becomes a barrier between the two ingredients and so, when you toss the two together, the pasta sauce slips off the pasta noodles and doesn't coat it at all. Plus, you might have an oily pasta dish!
However, there was some sense in that old advice and it revolves around the fact that after cooking, cooked pasta can stick together if it dries out. This makes it hard for pasta to be a dish that you can make ahead of time!
When you're short on time, pasta should be the last thing you want to cook at the last minute. It can easily be over cooked by an absentminded and busy cook and when that happens, that ruins the entire dish.
Instead, here's what we suggest you do when you want to cook pasta ahead of time:
Toss the pasta in some of the sauce.
The idea here is that while you shouldn't toss in oil, you can toss it in the same sauce that you'll be tossing it in later. This allows the pasta to absorb the flavors it will eventually have anyway but without the full impact of the sauce yet. Plus, it also prevents the pasta sauce from becoming clumpy as it cools, especially if it's a cream sauce, and the pasta from absorbing all the liquid from the sauce.
This tip not only prevents the pasta from sticking to each other as time goes by but it will also save you the hassle of having to cook pasta at the last minute.
You just need to use a little of the sauce to coat the noodles to keep it moist before serving. You can make extra sauce or toss it with either some tomato sauce or all-purpose cream (depending on the sauce you'll be serving) before tossing it with the sauce and right before setting it out on the table.
We think this is a genius tip for big gathering and buffet set-ups. It not only prevents oily pasta, but it also ensures that your pasta is always easy to serve even without the sauce yet.