Light Tips for Pasta Dishes
- Prepare dishes flavored with vegetables and herbs rather than meats and cream sauces.
- When possible, use low-fat cheese, such as ricotta or cottage cheese in place of other cheeses.
- Reduce the amount of cheese that is used on the top of baked dishes.
- When making sauces that call for butter, replace it with olive oil.
- When making a cream sauce, use skim or low-fat milk instead of cream.
- In dishes that call for meat, reduce the amount of meat and increase some of the other ingredients that contain less fat, such as vegetables.
- When cooking fresh pasta, watch it very closely and test often for doneness because it cooks quickly.
- To prevent the pasta from sticking together, be sure to use plenty of water and stir the pasta when first adding it to the boiling water.
- To prevent soft, mushy pasta, do not allow the pasta to be in the water any longer than necessary by adding it only when the water is at a full boil and by keeping it at a steady boil throughout the cooking time.
- Adding salt to the water when cooking pasta will help firm the pasta and bring out its flavor.
- Add a tablespoon of oil to the water when cooking lasagne. Because lasagne noodles are long, wide and thick, they have a tendency to stick together when they cool. The oil in the cooking water will help to prevent them from sticking together.
- Pasta should be cooked as close to serving time as possible because it cools down quite rapidly. Serve the pasta on a heated plate or in a heated bowl to help keep it warm.
- To warm a large bowl for serving pasta, put the serving bowl in the sink and place the colander in it. When the pasta is done, pour it into the colander, allowing the hot water to drain into the bowl. Pull the colander out of the serving bowl and let the pasta drain. Empty the hot water from the serving bowl and pour the pasta into the warm bowl.
- When cooking fresh or homemade pasta, be sure to have everything ready that you will need to prepare the pasta for serving, such as the colander in the sink, the sauce made and warmed bowls or plates ready to be filled. Fresh and homemade pasta cooks rapidly and having everything ready ahead of time will assist in serving warm pasta.
- To bring pasta water to a boil more quickly, cover the pot with a lid while you are heating the water. Do not cover the pot while cooking the pasta.
- When making lasagne, use the "no need to cook" lasagne noodles to save time.
- To prevent pasta from boiling over, place a wooden spoon or fork across the top of the pot while the pasta is boiling.
- When saucing the pasta, if the sauce seems a little dry, add a few tablespoons of the pasta's cooking water.
- Don't worry about cooking too much pasta, the leftover pasta can be refrigerated and used later in other dishes, such as salads, casseroles or soups. It can also be reheated and eaten plain or with a sauce.
- If combining different pastas, be sure to select shapes and sizes that are similar so that they will cook in the same amount of time.