I know, I know: The idea of hard, woody, undercooked pasta is pretty off-putting. But ensuring that you’re not overcooking your pasta—not even by a handful of seconds—is important to producing a restaurant-quality meal.
When you put the time and effort into making fresh pasta by hand, you want to make sure that it’s as enjoyable as possible. So to have it ending up as limp mush on your plate after all that hard work is likely one of the world's most disappointing experiences.
And no, that’s not an overstatement.
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Fresh Pasta Cooks More Quickly than Dried
One thing to know about cooking with fresh pasta is that it's important to treat it differently from dry pasta. While there are many considerable differences, one is that fresh pasta cooks more quickly than its boxed counterpart, meaning there’s less room for error when it comes to perfectly cooking your carbs.
We recommend tasting fresh pasta early and often as it cooks, since it can be ready for draining in as little as 2 minutes. Dried pasta, on the other hand, often requires between 5 and 10 minutes to fully cook, depending on its shape.
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Pasta Can Overcook in the Sauce
Another consideration is how and when you’re saucing your fresh pasta. If you’re adding ravioli into a hot skillet with sauce, for example, that cooking time could easily tip your pasta over the edge, causing it to overcook and become mushy.
The same doesn’t occur as easily for dried pasta, which would withstand the carryover cooking effects of being doused in hot sauce.
Of course, when a recipe calls for fresh pasta to be incorporated into a sauce before serving, it’s important to do so, to let it soak up as much flavor as possible. Just keep in mind that the cooking process won’t begin and end in the boiling water—the time spent saucing is included in the overall time spent cooking the pasta.
ColandersA colander is the go-to tool to use when draining pasta, but a good one can do so much more than that. Which model is best?
Sometimes there are additional factors that we don’t even realize affect the cooking time of your pasta! Overcooking your pasta can also come down to the effectiveness of your colander and how long the strands stay submerged or coated in hot water. It’s also a good idea to ensure that the rest of your meal is ready to go once you’ve dropped your fresh pasta into the boiling water, to ensure you’re not fussing over a sauce while it overcooks in the pot.
So what’s the takeaway in all this? Simply said, don’t be afraid to keep testing your pasta, and factor in the time it spends out of the pot, as well as within it, when it comes to calculating your cooking time.