Aga Lovers forum: Pasta with the Aga

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ImageGwen
Feb 25, 2010 6:19 PM CST
Name: Gwen
Langley WA
Just a quickie to get this started....I'm off to catch the bus to go to my monthly Master Gardener meeting. I take the bus up and then catch a ride with someone on the way back.

What I do with pasta is to put the big pot of water into the SO well before I want to cook the pasta. When I'm ready to cook the pasta, it then comes to a boil on the BP very very quickly.

I know what you mean about not using enough water to cook pasta. I am very guilty of this. I often run out of water as the pasta absorbs all the water. But it's only because I'm lazy or already have all the big pans in use. Not because the Aga doesn't boil water fast enough.

Also, the water in our tap gets very hot. We probably have the hot water tank thingie turned up too high. So if I start off with the hottest water, I can also get water boiling on the BP pdq.

I never really know when pasta is done so I'd love to learn. I always subscribed to the throwing-it-on-the-ceiling method - if it sticks, it's ready. Rolling on the floor laughing The thing where you test it with your teeth, well, I never really know what that means or if the rest of the people will like it the way I do. So I'm sure I tend to overcook it. But I'd love to learn the right techniques.

Btw, I make my own manicotti 'pancakes' right on the SP. I'll post the recipe after I get back from my MG meeting.

Have you tried those lasagne noodles that you don't have to precook? I'm sorry to say I have succumbed to the temptation, and they worked quite well. But I've only succumbed once. What I hate about precooking lasagne noodles is that they burn my hands when I go to handle them.

Do you make your own pasta? That's my preference because then there is very little guess work as to when it's done. But except for raviolis, I rarely make my own. My middle name should have been lazy.
Josh
Feb 25, 2010 8:40 PM CST
I dont think that is lazy. I have only tried to make my own pasta twice, and was not happy with the results either time. I cook tons of dry pasta. I buy the imported stuff, which is bad for my carbon footprint but good to eat. I normally buy sclafani, as it is good quality and not too expensive. If DeCecco is on sale I will buy that is it is top shelf stuff. I also buy Rienzi, but only usually their long cuts.

I think that if it sticks to walls or ceiling, it is probably a bit overcooked.

When cooked in too little water, the pasta becomes too starchy and sticky, for my taste.

I use lots of water, bring it to a furious boil, add salt, but no oil, boil it til it is almost done, and then start testing it every 30 seconds or so, just bite into a piece and see how it is. At this point I can kinda tell by look and feel, and just bite into one to make certain. It should not crunch at all, but should definately have a firm center. If you leave it ever so slightly under-cooked, and then toss into your sauce over medium heat, the pasta will cook the rest of the way in the sauce and suck a lot of the sauce flavor.

I have not tried the no cook lasagne. I buy the dry noodles, cook, drain, rinse in cold tap water, and then assemble. I under cook the lasagne too, so that it will absorb more of the liquid in the sauce when baking. I dont remember anyone cooking lasagne in their home when I lived in Italy, except when I went to visit a friend at their family farm, and they definately used fresh homemade pasta, which then just gets baked, I believe. It was excellent!
ImageGwen
Feb 26, 2010 12:12 AM CST
Name: Gwen
Langley WA
Why do you add salt? Is that for flavor? I don't add salt a whole lot when cooking.

I sometimes add oil. Many years ago I read that if you add oil, one, the pasta won't stick together and, two, it won't boil over. So I started adding it for those reasons. I have no idea if there's any fact to that or not.

Interesting tip about the pasta absorbing the sauce and the fact that it continues to cook.

I don't cook a whole lot of pasta. My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy (not that that really makes any difference to me!), but the biggest reason is that carbs do not agree with me at all. So I try and keep them to a minimum. But I do love pasta and I enjoy making pasta dishes.
Josh
Feb 26, 2010 10:16 AM CST
Hi Gwen,

The salt is for flavor. It also seems to change the chemistry of boiling water, when you throw it into the boiling water it makes the water boil more furiously for a moment. I find that as I get older I use more salt, but I try to keep it to a minimum.

If you use enough water, and stir, you should not need oil.

We seem to eat a lot of pasta around here, and vegetables and beans. I don't cook a lot of meat these days, but occasionally buy a cut of beef from a local farmer who pasture feeds his cows and the meat is wonderful!
ImageMaryEllen
May 13, 2010 3:28 PM CST
Name: Mary Ellen
South Carolina
I teach children with learning disa
I'm just now reading these pasta posts. The reason I don't use oil is because then the sauce slides right off the pasta. For the pasta to absorb the sauce, there shouldn't be any oil on it. I also use salt in my boiling water and have better results that way. I use a lot of whole grain pasta. That seems to require a bit more attention, for some reason, to make sure it's done.
Mary Ellen

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