02 October 2009

A Salty Boil

One of the best tips I could give anyone in terms of cooking pasta is to salt the water the pasta will be cooking in before adding the pasta. I felt compelled to write about this because I have had a number of pasta dishes lately that were quite bland and would have benefited greatly from properly seasoned pasta.

So, why add salt to the water in the first place? Salt should be added to the water because every element of a dish should be seasoned. The salt adds a slight saltiness to the pasta that enhances the flavor considerably. Cooking pasta in salted water means that the pasta will absorb some of the salt and therefore not taste bland. This can't be fixed later by salting the pasta after it is cooked or adding extra salt to the sauce; this would just result in a bland pasta with a salty exterior.

So, how much salt should be added to the water? As a general rule of thumb, and what I have also heard from Mario Batali; is that the pasta water should taste like the sea. I even go as far as to season my pasta water with sea salt, another tip from Mario. I hope this didn't come off as being too preachy; I just wanted to get that off my chest and stress the importance of properly seasoned food. The dishes I had would have been saved by simply adding some salt to the pasta water. Thanks for reading.


  1. Luke! Every time I add salt to my pasta water, I think of you! One of the last times we cooked together you told me the water should taste like sea water and it really stuck with me. It does make a delicious difference.

  2. Aunt Joan here again! Nonna would sometimes even keep a little of this "ocean water" in the ditalini that she put in our bowl, along with butter, garlic and freshly grated romano cheese (remember those huge wheels!) and MANGIA! Taste the love...

  3. Yes! I have added pasta water to some sauces that I've made. It really adds flavor and helps pull the sauce together with some of the residual starch from the noodles.



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