Be honest: has your pasta with tomato sauce ever turned out nearly as good as the Italian spaghetti Napoli? No? It’s not your cooking skills that are to blame, it’s your lack of knowledge of the expert tricks. But don’t worry: You can read them here with us.Have you ever gone to an Italian with an Italian? We bet that he decided against a pasta dish and in favor of the fish of the day or the filetto di manzo – and we also know the reason: the Italians make good pasta themselves. At home.
1. Sufficient water
The large pot should not only be used when you are feeding the whole family. Calculate one liter of water for every 100 grams of pasta – it needs space, if only to prevent it from sticking together. And so that there is still room for improvement: please do not put the lid on as soon as the pasta is inside.
2. Neat salt
You probably knew that salt belongs in pasta water. However, it should be a sufficient amount, so the pasta simply tastes like “more”. So: Instead of a hesitant teaspoon, as you are probably used to, confidently add one and a half tablespoons per pack of pasta – and only when the water is already boiling. (This claim is based on observation of Italian chefs, who typically don’t cook to a formula or strict standards.)
3. The right sauce
Italians know that less is more. A good sauce usually consists of a manageable number of ingredients. For example, the linguine ai gamberetti doesn’t have much more than prawns, plus garlic, white wine and parsley, maybe a few cherry tomatoes. He never turns fresh greens into a “nice vegetable sauce”, instead he might use them to cook minestrone or the accompaniments to the meat course. By the way: ham and salami – albeit “typically Italian” – have no place on the pasta, just as little as cheese on sauces with fish or seafood. We strongly encourage you to look to an Italian cookbook for inspiration. You might be in for a surprise or two!
4. The right pasta
noodle is noodle? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that! Italians choose the right accompaniment to salsa or sugo very carefully . Small, narrow maccheroni, for example, do not necessarily go well with a creamy Bolognese sauce, while coarse pasta shells do not go well with aglio e olio . Remember: the heavier the sauce and the more chunks it contains, the wider the noodle can be. Conversely, long varieties such as spaghetti go well with thinner sauces, ribbon noodles such as fettucelle are great for cream sauces.
5. Be willing to experiment!
Depending on the region, you will find a wide variety of taste experiences in Italy – for example the white, slightly bitter salsa di noci (German: walnut sauce), which in Liguria is traditionally served with filled dumplings (“pansoti”). The whole thing may be a bit more powerful – after all, in addition to bags of walnuts, pine nuts and sour cream, Parmesan and bread dough softened in milk are also used – but everyone should have tasted it once. When it comes to ingredients, the Italians are very open-minded anyway – or let’s say they use everything – and cook a lot with innards such as veal brains, sweetbreads or chicken livers, which, by the way, are an integral part of the original Bolognese sauce. Now don’t be so shocked! Have you already eaten a thousand times with your regular Italian…