Pasta is a go to meal for many families. It is cheap, easy, quick to make, and super versatile.
There are an infinite amount of ways to prepare a pasta dish, so if you have been stuck on the standard spaghetti and meatballs, it’s time to get creative! Keep reading for 4 ways to elevate any pasta recipe.
Make Use of Fresh Ingredients
If you have always grabbed a jar of whatever pasta sauce is one the shelf at the store, then it won’t take much for you to elevate your pasta meals. Using fresh ingredients is a game changer and makes a significant difference when it comes to flavors. So instead of grabbing canned or jarred sauce from the store, get fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic and make your own. Making homemade pasta sauce is a simple and easy process and you can even use a large pot set to make a family sized batch as the sauce will keep well in the freezer. Don’t forget to grab some fresh basil to finish it all off. Using fresh herbs over dry will instantly take your pasta to the next level.
Leave it to Simmer
If you don’t take the time to allow your sauce to simmer, now is the time to start. The longer you leave your sauce to simmer, the better it will taste. Simmering sauces for a minimum of 30 minutes allows the flavors to marry together and become more prevalent. If you have the time though, several hours is the ideal simmer time for a pasta sauce.
Treat the Pasta Right
When preparing your pasta, there are a few things you should keep in mind for optimal cooking. First of all, you need to make sure you are cooking with the right amount of water. Too little water in the pot set can cause the noodles to clump up, and too much can cause it to boil over. The ideal amount is around six quarts for each pound of pasta.
The next thing you will need to be aware of is the salting procedure. You want to salt your pasta water with the right amount and at the right time. A little pinch of salt isn’t going to cut it here. You want your pasta water to be salty like the sea. This helps to bring out the flavor of the pasta. As for timing, salting needs to happen when the water starts to boil, but before you add the pasta. Adding salt to cold water is known to cause damage to some pots depending on the material.
Lastly you want to make sure you aren’t adding olive oil to the pasta water. There is a common misconception that this will help to prevent your noodles from sticking. What it can actually do is prevent your sauce from adhering to your pasta, and we definitely don’t want that.
How to Elevate a Classic Red Sauce
Let’s take a look at our classic and beloved tomato sauce. There are so many ways to elevate a tomato-based sauce, and yet so many of us play it safe with the standard marinara. Get out your pot set and prepare to cook because today is the day we change that. Here are some of the ways we like to add some flair to our red sauces.
●Arrabbiata Sauce: Arrabbiata sauce is marinara’s spicy younger sister and is very easy to make. You can follow your favorite marinara recipe to start, the only difference is you will be omitting the sugar and replacing it with chili flakes. The chili flakes should be sauteed with the garlic and onion. Then you can continue the rest of your sauce as normal, and you’ve got yourself a fresh new pasta sauce with a kick!
●Puttanesca Sauce: This sauce puts a Mediterranean twist on a classic red sauce. If the spicy arrabbiata isn’t for you, a puttanesca sauce offers interesting and unique flavors without the heat (although you are free to add chili flakes to this one if you like!) For the red sauce base, you will want to use fresh tomatoes which you will cook down with tomato paste and olive oil. The Mediterranean flavors come in with the inclusion of capers, kalamata olives and anchovies which are to be cooked down with the cherry tomatoes. You will also need all your classic red sauce ingredients like garlic, basil, salt and pepper, and parmesan cheese for the top.
●Vodka Sauce: Vodka sauce had a viral moment recently when Gigi Hadid released her signature recipe to the world. Vodka sauce is a cross between a cream and tomato-based sauce and is an excellent way to elevate any pasta dish that you would typically eat with marinara. Check out Gigi’s recipe to learn from the master herself. This is a rich and flavorful sauce that you need to try if marinara has a hold on you.
Try out some of these tips and tricks to take your pasta dishes to the next level. And don’t be afraid to experiment because you may just discover the next viral pasta sauce that even Gigi Hadid would die for!