Pasta is an incredibly versatile food. It’s an easy option on a busy night, or when funds are low. It’s a comforting option when you want something warm and filling. It’s also a heavy option when you’re trying to cut calories and watch your waistline.
It’s this last reason that can give pasta a bad rap, especially among dieters. So we want to share a secret with you: You can eat pasta and lose weight. Really. We promise.
The problem is, most people don’t focus on making good pasta. So, let’s start there. Let’s assume you’re already buying a whole grain option, therefore getting maximum nutrients from each and every calorie. But how are you preparing it? If you’re like most people, you’re probably just setting the pot to boil and dumping it in. If you take just a few extra steps, your pasta will taste much better.
In a recent article from Today I Found Out the authors break down the science of boiling pasta and they present a few great tips to get the best taste from your noodles. Here’s what we learned:
Adding salt to the water will flavor the pasta, so go ahead and add some to the pot. Also, stir the noodles early on. Otherwise the starches will cause the pieces to stick together and you end up with a giant lump. (We’ve had this happen before, right?)
Speaking of starches: The starch in pasta will absorb the water until it bursts, which is where those frothy white bubbles come from. These bubbles trap the steam and often get a little out of control, boiling over. To keep this from happening, Today I Found Out suggests you leave the lid off the pot, place a wooden spoon across the pot (seriously, the spoon causes the unstable bubbles to burst, sending the growing layer down into the pot once more), or simply use a bigger pot. Adding a little oil to the water will help it from boiling over, but it will stick to your noodles, causing the sauce to slide right off, so you might want to skip that step.
That’s it. A little salt, a little stir, and a spoon on top will make your meal an easy and tasty one to prepare.
But that’s not all. We have a theory that if your pasta actually tastes good—and is more than just a squishy vehicle for pasta sauce—it might take less of it to bring on satisfaction. Just think about artisan chocolate compared to chocolate Easter bunnies. Most of us would take a single handcrafted serving, with its rich flavors, over a chocolate-like shelf-stable option any day, right? In the same way, pasta can be a wonderful source of whole grains and good carbohydrates, if you’re willing to make it right.
To make your pasta into a really memorable dish, top it off with a little olive oil and red pepper or try one of these delicious recipes: