Pasta may be one of the easiest foods to prepare. You don't need to be a seasoned cook to boil the noodles and toss them with some sauce.
But don't let the easiness of it all fool you into thinking that you haven't been making some mistakes while cooking the staple.
We've all done it at some point, add a dash of salt followed by a few teaspoons of oil to the water so that the noodles won't stick together or to prevent the water from boiling over.
You probably haven't given the process much thought because it's how you were taught to cook pasta, but did you know that adding oil to the water can actually ruin your meal?
It all goes back to the simple science concept which we've all learned as kids - oil does not mix with water. Even when you combine the two liquids, they will eventually separate and the oil will float to the top as it is less dense than water.
So when you add oil to the boiling water, only an insignificant amount will make it onto the pasta. The oil that floats to the top latches onto the noodles when you go to drain the pasta, making the it greasy and difficult for the sauce to stick.
The easiest way to prevent this from happening is by creating a good starch to liquid consistency by using a large pot and plenty of water to boil the pasta in.
The rule of thumb is to use three liters of water for every 250 grams of pasta. Occasionally stirring the pasta as it cooks will also prevent the noodles from sticking.
Another common mistake you may be making when it comes to pasta is draining the water down the sink.
According to Bon Appetit, the cloudy pasta water, or as they call it, "liquid gold," can elevate your sauce. Turns out, this liquid is just the thing you need for emulsification, which results in a silky smooth sauce with the perfect consistency.
Emulsifying the sauce binds together the oil and water so they won't separate on your plate and create a watery puddle at the bottom. It's a popular technique that chefs have been using for decades.
Adding just a ladleful of pasta water into your sauce will not only combine the oil and water, it will also thicken the sauce so you won't have to bother adding extra flour, cornstarch or cream, all of which can alter the taste of your dish if you used excessively.