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Kitchen Secrets: Expert tips for perfectly cooked pasta every time

Here’s how to avoid stuck-together spaghetti stress.

Image: Shutterstock

EVERY HOME COOK has their own kitchen hacks, cheats and traditions, and we want to know yours.

Each week as part of our Kitchen Secrets series, we ask our readers to share their cooking tips and go-to-dishes. From the secret to quick-and-easy dinners, to the best way to scramble an egg, we set a new question every seven days.

THE SAUCE AND the cheese tend to get most of the attention when it comes to pasta recipes. Carbonara or arrabbiata? Parmesan or mozzarella? Three cloves of garlic or none at all? But the really important part – and one that’s often overlooked – is the method you use to cook your pasta.

Even if you’re just following the packet instructions, there are plenty of variables that can trip you up, like the size of your pan (no over-crowding, please), the amount of salt you add to the water, and the amount of time you wait before draining the pasta.

This week, we asked: What’s the secret to perfectly cooked pasta every time?

And panellist Angela Nolan came back with no fewer than four expert-level tips for home cooks to follow:

1. Make space: When cooking dried or fresh pasta always use your biggest pot – pasta needs plenty of boiling salted water.

2. Leave the oil for dressing: Never add oil to the water as this will make your pasta gloopy.

3. Add butter, and thicken your sauce: After draining add a knob of butter and a twist of black pepper. Whatever sauce you’re using make sure it’s of the right consistency – thin sauces won’t coat your pasta and pool on the plate… not what any aspiring domestic god/goddess wants.

4. And for extra points… make fresh pasta in minutes: Fresh pasta is really easy to make, it’s just flour, eggs and a little salt.You don’t even need a bowl.

Simply measure out your flour and salt onto a clean worktop, make a circle in the middle, add eggs and stirring with your hand gradually draw in the flour. Knead until it comes together and hey presto, homemade pasta! It also cooks in a flash, only 3 to 4 minutes. Buon appetito!

- Angela Nolan

More Kitchen Secrets: Readers share their BBQ tips for tender, tasty meat every time>

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