Pasta Water: The Secret Ingredient to Amazing Sauces

pasta water
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / picjumbo_com

Pasta water is one of the best kept secrets of the culinary world that you need to know about. Using it in sauces can help elevate any pasta dish.

Pasta water works in sauces as a both a thickener and a binder, due to the starch that pasta water contains. Adding this starchy water to your pasta sauce will thicken the sauce, make it richer, and help the noodles adhere to your sauce more. 

How to Save Your Pasta Water

Get into the habit of ladling one to two cups of pasta water before you drain your pasta.
Get into the habit of ladling one to two cups of pasta water before you drain your pasta.
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ulleo)

Saving pasta water might need some getting used to, as we tend to automatically drain our pasta straight into a colander when it’s done. But this is a total waste of the secret ingredient to delicious pasta sauces and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, try and get into the habit of always ladling a cup or two of water from the pot before draining it. 

How to Use Your Pasta Water

Adding pasta water to your sauce will act as a thickener and binder, and can be added to all kinds of pasta sauces.)
Adding pasta water to your sauce will act as a thickener and binder, and can be added to all kinds of pasta sauces.)
(Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / ayindeabdulmajeed44)

Once you’ve saved some pasta water, you can start cooking your pasta sauce. Once the fat (olive oil or butter) you’re using for your sauce has cooked through the onions and garlic, you can add any other ingredients to build your sauce, like the vegetables. Next, you will want to add your secret pasta sauce ingredient: the pasta water. Stir in one to two cups of pasta water into the sauce and combine well. 

A general rule of thumb is to combine around two cups of pasta water to one pound of pasta. Keep adding pasta water as needed, until you achieve your desired, smooth consistency for your pasta sauce and the sauce begins to emulsify.

Which Pasta Sauces are Suitable?

All classic Italian pasta sauce recipes will add pasta water to their sauces to make them smoother and tastier.
All classic Italian pasta sauce recipes will add pasta water to their sauces to make them smoother and tastier.
(Foto: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash / Nerfee Mirandilla)

This trick for delicious pasta sauces is not such a well kept secret in Italian restaurants. In fact, most pasta sauces you have enjoyed in a good quality Italian restaurant will have pasta water added. 

Pasta sauces that use pasta water include classic pasta sauces, like bolognaise or marinara, but this starchy goodness is also used in sauces like carbonara, pesto, and cacio e pepe. In other words, you can use pasta water to enhance all types of sauces, from cream-based to tomato based. 

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