Why You Don't Want to Add Oil to the Water When Cooking Pasta
I get a lot of emails from visitors who have read my pasta tips page with the suggestion of adding a little oil to the pot of boiling water to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
I did this for years until my friend and professional chef Ricco Deluca told me this is a bad idea. A real no-no.
Why you may be asking yourself since this is one of your favorite pasta cooking tips that you have been doing for as long as you can remember?
Because yes the pasta won't stick together but neither will the pasta and the sauce. The oil prevents the sauce from sticking to the pasta. You end up with a pile of pasta with all the sauce in the bottom of the bowl.
A better tip for preventing the pasta from sticking together is to use plenty of water. It may take a more time to bring a bigger pot of water to boil but you'll find the pasta tastes better, doesn't form into a big gluey mess and the sauce sticks to it the way it should.
Use the Pasta Water To Your Advantage
A great trick professional chefs use all the time is to save some of the pasta water (½ - 1 cup) before draining. They add some of this water back into their sauce to help the pasta sauce better stick to the pasta.
How does this work?
There is starch in pasta. When you boil the pasta, some of the starches are transferred into the water. So if you add a little of that "starchy" water to your sauces, the starch in the sauce helps it adhere to the starchy pasta.
If you're concerned the water will thin out your sauce, it might but all you have to do is keep the sauce on the heat a little longer and let it cook down to your desired consistency. Just be careful not to add too much starchy water.
Click on this link for more pasta cooking tips and if you have any of your own, please add them to the comments section for other reader to try.