Emilia’s Top 5 Pasta Cooking Tips

A Sicilian Lifestyle Blog

Emilia shares some secret tips from our grandparents and her time working as a chef in East London’s favourite Pastificio.

1. If you find your pasta dish is lacking in depth of flavour add a grating of Pecorino cheese and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Pecorino cheese uplifts any dish and a good olive oil with fresh grassy tomato notes will enhance its flavours.

2. When cooking pasta the water needs to be well salted beforehand otherwise you will find your pasta is lacking in seasoning and by adding salt on top after being cooked won’t have the same result.

3. The pasta water needs to be boiling at a fast boil with the salt being added once boiled just before adding in the pasta with a good 2 tsp of salt. The reason I add the salt just before I add in the pasta is because when the water is coming to a boil it will begin to evaporate slowly so if there is salt already inside the water the salt content becomes to high concentrated and you cannot control the intensity of the salt level that you desire – you might get overly salty pasta!

4. The cooking pan you use for making your sauces and for mixing the pasta together is so important! I prefer to use a non-stick pan with lid and with a decent depth around 3 – 4 inches and a circumference around 12 inches. This allows enough room to fry off the ingredients without losing any heat and maintaining a good fry and also enough room to add in the cooked pasta to the sauce. A lid is essential too so you can control how liquid you want your sauce.

5. My Grandma Strazzanti’s tip for when making different pasta sauces was you either use onion or garlic in the base, never both together! So we have at least 8 different basic pasta sauce recipes from both my Grandma from Sicily and my Grandad from Naples and they all have a very different end result in terms of flavour based on whether we used onion or garlic and which herbs we used alongside them to pair. Although my Grandad always said if you like both together then just go for it!

Buon appetito!

Emilia Strazzanti