Kitchen 101

Pasta is one of the most basic college dorm essentials. Yet this is one starchy food that people often cook incorrectly. When it comes to pasta, it’s the little things that help you get the most out of your enriched macaroni product.

The steps for making perfect pasta are simple:

1. Boil the water

2. Add a little salt for flavor

3. Stir and check every now and then until it’s done

4. Strain

But that’s not where the story ends, which is where the trouble often starts.

What kind of pasta are you using? Yeah, I know when people normally ask that question their trying to up-sell you on the expensive noodles. I also know that most pasta – even the kind in pretty boxes – is generally the same. Then again, have you considered supplementing your diet with a “garden” style or a whole wheat noodle?

Unless you eat pasta for almost every meal, switching to a “garden” or whole wheat noodle is not going to make up for the fact your idea of eating healthy involves smoking light cigarettes and drinking light beer. But it can add some extra fiber, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and zinc to your diet. Regular pasta either completely lacks or contains a much smaller amount of those.

Whole wheat anything is generally better for you than its refined, white counterpart. But it also generally costs a bit more. It also helps you if youhave diabetes because it digests slower and has a lower effect on blood sugar.

Whatever pasta you go for, remember that you shouldn’t be spending more than $1 per pound – on average – for regular pasta. Egg, rice, whole wheat and other kinds of noodles will cost more. Even then, if you’re paying more than $2 per pound, you’re paying too much. Of course, we’re talking – pun intended – garden variety noodles you’ll find in your average grocery store. There’s a whole world of specialty pasta but that’s for another time.

Since I just spent 242 words (count it) talking about different kinds of pasta and your attention span is already waning, here’s a quick list of do’s and don’ts for making pasta.

-Do add oil to the water to keep it from foaming over.

-Do use enough water to cover the pasta by about 1.5 inches.

-Do boil the water before you add the pasta.

-Do coat cooked pasta in oil if you’re not using it immediately.

-Don’t rinse your pasta.

-Don’t throw pasta at your fridge to see if it’s done; your dorm is dirty enough.

-Do take a bite of the pasta to see if it’s done, duh.

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