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
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
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?
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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