Pasta Pointers

When cooking pasta, should you add oil to the water? Also, should you rinse pasta before serving? I have heard conflicting answers to these questions. —J.A., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

There are two schools of thought when it comes to adding oil to the water when cooking pasta. One group believes that adding olive or vegetable oil to the cooking water prevents the pasta from sticking together while cooking. It suggests adding 1 tablespoon of oil to 3 quarts of water for every 8 ounces of pasta cooked. The second school believes that the oily residue left on the pasta can cause the sauce to slide off the pasta, making it difficult to eat. Our Test Kitchen home economists agree and prefer to cook pasta without adding oil to the water.

As far as rinsing pasta, we suggest draining it thoroughly in a colander without rinsing when it is to be served with a sauce or combined in a baked dish. Rinsing can wash away starch that may help to slightly thicken the pasta sauce. On the other hand, pasta can be rinsed in a colander when it is to be served cold, such as in a salad.

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