We love pasta around here. But the package directions, and most cookbooks, call for huge amounts of water. Boiling all that water takes time and money. The cookbooks are wrong. Here are ten creative ideas for making pasta frugally.
- Cook as usual, but use less water. Start with half the amount you usually use. The pasta will cook just fine, but you will need to stir it every two or three minutes to prevent sticking. If you get distracted easily, set the timer.
- Use an electric kettle instead of the gas to heat up the water, then transfer it to a pot on top of the stove. It’s more efficient, but keep in mind that electric kettles need to be replaced frequently.
- Cover the pot so that the water will cook faster. Now my mother did not do this, and I’m sure she had a reason. It was probably to give the chlorine from tap water a chance to escape. Covering partway will have the same effect. Keep off the cover when you are cooking the pasta.
- Choose a type of pasta where all of the water is absorbed, like couscous or baked varieties (e.g. farfel).
- Get the Fasta Pasta for the microwave. Boiling large quantities of water in the microwave is inefficient and time-consuming, but with the Fasta Pasta you’ll feed four people in ten minutes. At under $10, it makes a great hostess gift.
- Make pasta like risotto. Risotto is a soupy rice casserole with vegetables and sometimes meat. It can be cooked on top of the stove or in the microwave. Saute vegetables and add half a cup of stock at time, cooking until the pasta is soft but not mushy.
- Cook the pasta for less time. If you are cooking pasta to bake in a casserole, it should cook about 2/3 of the recommended time. As with any food, overcooking wastes energy and lowers quality.
- Cook extra and save. If you don’t add sauce, cooked pasta will keep in the refrigerator for four or five days. You can also double a casserole recipe and freeze.
- Don’t pre-cook. Prepare the lasagna as usual, but with uncooked noodles. Add extra liquid, cover the pan tightly with foil, and bake. You’ll need to increase baking time as well. You can buy “pre-cooked” noodles, but they are pricey.
- Drain cooking water from your pasta into a large bowl and use as a base for soups, sauces and stews. It’s loaded with starch, especially if you didn’t use much water to begin with, and will add body to your recipe.
Have you used any of these tips? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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