How to cook pasta like a chef
Pasta is one of those dishes you can cook in hurry and it is extremely versatile. You can make jollof pasta, creamy pasta, stir-fry pasta, salad pasta, bolognese and more – what is there not to love about pasta! The different types of pastas you use can transform your dish; even if you have pasta everyday of the week, the type of pasta you use can make it look like a different dish every time. To get the best out of your pasta dishes you need to be familiar with the different colours and shapes because the type of pasta used can affect the outcome of the dish; there are long pastas, short pastas, some suited for soups, and others for salads.
Popular types of pasta
There are different forms, shapes and colours of pasta in over 600 variations including white pasta, wheat pasta and tri-colour pasta.
Penne pasta – this pasta looks like a hollow tube but the ends are cut diagonally. This pasta works best with a heavy sauce. Some have ridges, and others don’t.
Spaghetti –this pasta is the most popular type; a thin long noodle and can be cooked in many ways.
Linguini – this is a flat pasta, thin and long and great when made with a cream based sauce.
Fettuccini – this is thicker than a linguine- it is flat and wider. It is mostly enjoyed when cooked with thick meat based sauces and cream.
Angel hair – this pasta is similar to spaghetti but very tiny, almost like a rope. It cooks fast and it is best enjoyed when cooked with light sauces like soy sauce or used in a stir fry.
Shells – this pasta resembles sea shells and comes in different sizes. It is a versatile form of pasta- depending on the size. It is perfect when cooked in a sauce because its cup will hold a lot of sauce.
Macaroni – this pasta is usually short and comes in c-shaped tubes. Macaroni’s are perfect for soups and baked dishes like the popular mac and cheese.
Rotini – this pasta is common and looks spiral shaped, comes in a few colours and is great with tomato based sauces.
Farfalle – if you’ve ever seen a bowtie pasta then you have seen a farfalle. They look delicious when prepared with a salad.
How to make the perfect pasta every time
• Use the appropriate pot size to cook pasta, pasta needs space to double its size so make sure you have a big enough pot to accommodate all of it.
• Add salt into the water before you had your pasta, to give it taste. If you do not add salt it will be bland. Add about 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 lb of pasta.
• To avoid pasta sticking together, stir it immediately you start cooking it. Adding olive oil to pasta while cooking can prevent it from clumping too. Also do not be afraid to stair it occasionally while cooking it.
• Do not cook pasta longer than the required cooking time. Over cooking pasta will make it not firm to the bite, you need pasta to be al dente, that is the best way to enjoy it. It is best to cook it less than the minimum cooking time.
• Drain pasta immediately after cooking it but do not rinse it if not it will get rid of the starch that will help give it a velvety texture when you mix it with the sauce.
• Use pasta immediately it is cooked and drained; if it is left for so long to air it may become clumpy.
Creamy coconut & Chicken pasta
500g penne pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup carrot (chopped)
4 table spoons tomato puree
2 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons suya spice
2 tablespoon, red pepper flakes
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 cup chicken stock
2 seasoning cubes
Salt to taste
•In a pot of boiling water, add a table spoon of olive oil and table spoon of salt, and then add pasta. Allow to boil according to package instructions, transfer to a sieve and drain. Reserve ½ cup cooked pasta water.
Cut chicken breasts into byte sizes and season with suya paper and salt. Mix it till well coated with spice.
•Heat up a non-stick pan and add 3 tablespoons of oil and place chicken breasts to pan fry on medium high heat till browned (about 4 minutes, 2 minutes on each side) then take it off the heat and set aside.
•In the same pan, add more oil, add onion then fry till translucent, add ginger, garlic and tomato puree, fry for about 6 minutes continuously stirring. Add thyme and seasoning to the sauce.
•Add coconut milk and stir till you get a creamy texture. Add chicken stock, mix and bring to a boil. Add pasta water if the consistency is too thick.
•Add pasta, then chicken breast and combine together. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
•Garnish with fresh chopped parsley
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