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Holding Pasta

Darcie B

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I would like to serve a variety of pasta shapes and sauces for a dinner party (a pasta bar of sorts). Making the sauces ahead and either holding/reheating poses no challenges, but having multiple types of pasta does. I don't have enough large burners to make more than 2 varieties at once.

Is there a practical method of parboiling/holding/reheating pasta that I can use at home? My biggest concerns are overcooking the pasta and having it stick. Suggestions? Or should I just limit it to the two I know I can do?

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For dry pasta you can cook it around 40% of the time required, then immediately shock it in cold water, drain it, coat it with oil, and finish it later. This will reduce the final cooking time to around 25% of regular. But it won't be nearly as good.


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With regard to the cooking time itself, you might select pasta shapes and sizes which cook more quickly. With a large enough pot of water, you could probably separate different types with a spider. Fresh pasta would shave several minutes.

I suppose if you were really stuck you could pair up two very dissimilar pasta shapes in the same pot and manually separate them after cooking. You could finish the pasta in the sauce in the oven.

Alternatively, you might consider a few starters which are served room temp or cold which you can cook a few minutes earlier than the rest, or dishes that have an additional cooking method after boiling. A couple which come to mind: pasta fritattas, marinara (I like mine room temp), pasta salads, fried ravioli, etc.

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Thanks for the replies. I think I'll make one fresh pasta that will cook in no time and one dried, plus make ravioli that can be sauced and held in the oven for the time it takes the fresh pasta to cook and for me to assemble that dish. I hope that will do the trick.

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I have cooked it till just done, shocked in ice water and then bagged up for later. The reheat should just be a dip in hot water so it won't really cook much further; same pot and water for all. The trick for me is to have them very wet when they get bagged up. By that I mean not shaking out the colander or strainer- they should be dripping if you use your hands to transfer them to the storage bag. The hands on seems to leave them in a looser state in the storage versus dumping them. In my experience this alleviates the "stuck together" factor as well as the need for an oil coating which will interfere with sauce adherence. Take them out of the fridge a bit ahead of time and if a gentle massage/pull (like detangling children's fine hair) does not work add in a touch of water and gently disentangle. Honestly this rarely happens for me.

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Since dry pasta takes nearly a half an hour to cook here, I cook a whole 1 lb package, and then drain in a colander, use what we need for that meal, and put the other two pounds in a thin gallon bags, in serving size portions, and off to the freezer...

its put in so its not a big ball , but a thin layer in the bag, Then when we use it, it goes a bowl and very hot tap water will thaw it very rapidly, then drain and serve...


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I have cooked it till just done, shocked in ice water and then bagged up for later. The reheat should just be a dip in hot water so it won't really cook much further; same pot and water for all. The trick for me is to have them very wet when they get bagged up.

This method has been very successful for me as well. And if you have a mesh bag (i.e., from onions or laundry, or such) then the retrieval of pasta from (re)heating water should be pretty easy, too.

Karen Dar Woon

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... And if you have a mesh bag (i.e., from onions or laundry, or such) then the retrieval of pasta from (re)heating water should be pretty easy, too.

Yes, if you have a bunch of those, cooking various different varieties in the same pot becomes a real possibility.

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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