How To Cook Pasta Like A Nonna

How To Cook Pasta Like A Nonna

Pasta comes in two basic forms: dried and fresh. Both are good, but suitable for different sauces.

Fresh pasta usually contains egg and is typical of more affluent northern Italy where it’s sauced with rich meat ragùs and creamy or buttery sauces. The poorer south makes dried pasta from just flour and water, and typically dresses it with olive oil, tomato and bolder Mediterranean flavours.

First, which pasta to buy.
If you’re buying dried pasta, Italian is best! Dried pasta should be made from a particularly hard variety of wheat called durum wheat, any other variety creates a pasta that’s too soft when cooked. Under Italian law dried pasta can only be made with durum wheat.

The best dried pasta is extruded through bronze dies rather than the more commercial Teflon-coated ones, leaving a rougher, more porous surface for the sauce to cling to. It’s also called bronze-extruded or bronze-drawn pasta. Most major brands have bronze-extruded ranges.

Now the cooking.
There are only a few simple rules to follow to cook pasta like an Italian Nonna:

  • Use plenty of water, ideally 1 litre water per 100g pasta.
  • Salt the water well, 10g salt per litre of water.
  • Get the water to a rolling boil before adding the pasta then return it to the boil as quickly as possible.
  • Use the packet timing as a guide but check regularly during cooking by biting a piece.
  • Be brave and take it out of the water just before you think it’s ready, so it can finish cooking in the heat of the sauce.
  • Act quickly, either draining the pasta and reserving some of the cooking water or lifting the pasta straight from the water into the sauce.
  • Add pasta to the pan of sauce immediately and toss together over the heat (this doesn’t apply to sauces like pesto, that are served ‘al crudo’ and only heated by the warmth of the pasta).
  • As you toss the pasta and sauce together add a little of the cooking water, it contains starch from the pasta which makes the sauce creamy and helps bind it and the pasta together.
  • The sauce should dress and flavour the pasta, not drown it. By tossing the hot pasta and sauce together, the pasta absorbs the sauce so every bite has flavour and you need less sauce.
  • Serve pasta immediately into warm shallow bowls. The Italians say: “La pasta non aspetta nessuno” (pasta waits for no one).
  • Eat pasta with a fork, or fork and spoon, never a knife as you shouldn’t cut the strands.

 

Scroll down for a step-by-step video of how to cook pasta like a Nonna!

Share page on:

How To Cook Pasta Like A Nonna

What Other Cooks Say

Melisa (Beacon Hill, NSW)
Melisa (Beacon Hill, NSW)
Read More
We made the pot-sticker dumplings and bang bang chicken from the Chinese class the other night. Once again both exceeded our expectations. My husband keeps saying it’s better than going out to restaurants as the recipes and quality are amazing.
Glennis (Caringbah South, NSW)
Glennis (Caringbah South, NSW)
Read More
The whole Be Inspired experience has helped me love cooking again. I was sick of cooking the same old things - meal time is a lot brighter thanks to you Roberta.
Pam (Cammeray, NSW)
Pam (Cammeray, NSW)
Read More
Your recipes are something I always feel confident offering guests and also reasonable in the time to prepare. We often try your recommended wines and suppliers and enjoy your travel tales too!
Jen (Tamarama, NSW)
Jen (Tamarama, NSW)
Read More
Thank you for stocking our pantry with such authentic Ingredients and quality produce. We really like the flexibility of cooking over a couple of days and changing the order we cook the dishes in when we want to. And I love listening to the themed playlist while cooking.
Katrina (Arncliffe, NSW)
Katrina (Arncliffe, NSW)
Read More
I am absolutely loving Be Inspired! There are ingredients I have never worked with before so having the confidence to try something new is so much fun! The recipes are just amazing and the notes on what can be prep’d beforehand are a great help too. Thank you so much.
Deb (Belconnen, ACT)
Deb (Belconnen, ACT)
Read More
Awesome fun traveling through Emilia-Romagna experiencing first hand some of the produce I've worked with over the last couple of years cooking with Roberta's classes – the family are reaping the benefits now.
Judith (Woronora, NSW)
Judith (Woronora, NSW)
Read More
Food, wine and travel! Three of my favourite things! Be Inspired with Roberta has been a wonderful experience and given me more confidence in the kitchen. I have learnt so much, cooked things I never would have attempted without Roberta’s excellent videos, and used ingredients I have never tried before.
Sandra (Garran, ACT)
Sandra (Garran, ACT)
Read More
I'm a competent cook whose learned so much from Roberta's online cooking classes. The recipes are yummy and Roberta’s video guidance offers so many little tips to improve flavour and organise the flow of preparation. I enjoy her warmth, sense of humour, and ability to giggle at herself when she occasionally messes up.
Previous
Next

Join Me Soon

Subscribe To My Newsletter & Get A Free Online Italian Cooking Class (RRP $39)