Cooking pasta isn't the most difficult of tasks in the kitchen. All you really need to do is boil some water in a pan, stick the pasta in, and wait for however long it says on the back of the packet - usually around 10 minutes for dry pasta. But did you know there's actually a way you can achieve perfectly cooked pasta without using as much energy?
Energy bills are still high for many households as a result of the recent energy crisis, so cutting back where possible can save us precious pennies. And one pasta cooking trick hailed by celebrity chef Nigella Lawson aims to do exactly that, as it involves turning off your hob long before the pasta is actually cooked.
On Nigella's website, the chef refers to the method as the "Vincenzo Agnesi method" and says it "reduces the risk of overcooking" your pasta, so is perfect for when you're feeding a lot of people and have other things to focus on in the kitchen. But others call it the "passive cooking method" and praise it for its money-saving abilities.
So, what does the method entail? Well, you still need to bring a pan of water to the boil as normal, but once you've dropped your pasta in, you only need to cook it for two minutes before turning the stove off, putting a lid over the pan, and leaving the pasta until it's cooked. The water in the pan will stay hot even without the hob burning away, so your pasta will still cook - and should even be done in the same amount of time that the package states.
Nigella writes on her website: "Bring your water to the boil, add salt, then tip in the pasta, stirring well to make sure it's all in and not clumped together. Once the water comes back to the boil, let the pasta cook for two minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean, thin tea towel (not a waffle-textured one) and clamp on a tight-fitting lid. Let the pasta stand like this for as long as the packet tells you to cook it normally. When the time is up, drain the pasta, remembering to remove a small cupful of cooking water before doing so."
The chef recommends holding back some of the water once the pasta is cooked because it will help bind your sauce to your pasta once the time comes to mix the two together. She also said the water you cook your pasta in should be "as salty as the Mediterranean", although she noted that "contemporary dietary mores could not run more counter to such a recommendation".
Using the passive cooking method for your pasta could actually reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to cooking it the regular way, according to pasta brand Barilla, and the method has also caused a stir online, with some saying learning about the technique has "altered their lives".
One person said: "Would it be dramatic to say the 'passive cooking' method for making pasta has totally altered my life?", while another added: "I love this! Thanks for bringing it to my attention, I'm going to try it this week."
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