How not to cook pasta

As someone who doesn’t cook much, I debated what I would do with my family for Father’s Day last month. After turning to YouTube for recommendations, I decided to make pasta because it seemed both quick and easy. However, my supposedly glorious dinner ended up being inedible for my entire family. My attempt to be a better daughter became a warning to my family to maybe not eat my culinary creations for a while. After thinking and experimenting over the past two weeks, here’s how not cook pasta.

Use of incorrect ingredients

My cooking motto generally goes like this: Estimate the ingredients roughly, and you can replace almost anything. Although this plan worked for most Asian cuisines, either because my kitchen already had the necessary ingredients or just by sheer luck, I learned that I probably shouldn’t use it to make pasta.

In my interpretation, the classic pasta al limone ingredients of heavy cream and parmesan cheese became Pizza Hut’s low-fat milk and cheese powder packets. Needless to say, they certainly didn’t work. On top of that, I added too much lemon zest and lemon juice, which made the sauce more watery and with a funky flavor. There’s nothing quite like the refreshing, creamy sauce it should have been.

So if you’re a home cook like me, don’t do what I did and just take the time to get what the recipes call for.

Reuse pasta water

Almost every pasta cooking video I’ve watched emphasized the need to heavily salt the pasta cooking water, so I really thought there was no way this could go south – but I was wrong. While the first batch of pasta noodles tasted good, I realized it was undercooked and ended up having more spaghetti. However, there was still plenty of cooking water that I didn’t want to waste. Genius moi decided to heavily salt the water again and reuse it for cooking the second batch of noodles, and they turned out extremely salty.

As I tried to save it by adding sugar after straining, it was ultimately a lost cause. Unfortunately the pasta could not be kept. Please don’t do this and avoid wasting pasta by measuring portions ahead of time or using fresh water if you need to make more!

Overcooked pasta

Although not as bad as the previous two, I made the mistake of overcooking the pasta. Although I followed the package instructions to only cook 10 minutes for al dente pasta, I didn’t take into account that the pasta was still cooking when I mixed it with the pasta sauce. As a result, my pasta was soggy and mushy when plated – the exact opposite of how it should have been.

To prevent this from happening to you, I recommend cooking the noodles about a minute less than the package calls for to achieve pasta perfection!

There you go, that’s how you don’t cook your pasta! Cooking sometimes takes trial and error, so fear not if these mistakes have happened to you too.

Contact Erica Jean at [email protected].