However, after Jill made a from-scratch version the last time we visited, I may be a changed woman.
- You undersalt the water: When adding pasta to boiling water, the pasta will absorb part of the water as it cooks. If you don't salt the water, the food will remain bland. But if you do, it'll be seasoned from within, which is a sure-fire way to achieve pasta greatness. If you're wondering how much salt you should add to the water, the answer is: more than you think! Italians will tell you it should be "as salty as the sea," and while that's a charming overstatement, it's not that far from the truth. Most of the salt you add will get lost in the water, so to make sure some of it gets in the pasta, you need to be generous.
- When cooking pasta, you don't reserve any of the pasta water. Pasta cooking water is filled with starch — that will help bind the pasta and sauce together and make the sauce silkier. It's also already salted, making it more flavorful than basic water. So the next time you make pasta, save 1/2 a cup of cooking water that you can then use in the sauce. (This recipe says to save more, and I probably used more than 1/2 cup, but not nearly 2 cups.)
- You rinse pasta after draining it: Rinsing the pasta will strip it of its starch, which is something you need if you want to make your sauce super silky and yummy. The only times when it's fine to rinse pasta is if you're making pasta salad or using it in a stir-fry.
- We don't like spicy food, so I didn't use any red pepper flakes. I got this recipe from Jill after she served it to us. She didn't add red pepper flakes when serving to us. However, she and Eric added some at the table.
- The original recipe called for 16 ounces of pasta. I decided I'd rather have it a little "saucier," so I decreased to about 12 ounces of dried pasta when I served it with grilled chicken. When I added 3/4 pound of hamburger to the sauce, I used only 8 ounces of pasta.
- As the recipe says, be sure and save some of the pasta water to "loosen" up the sauce. To reheat any leftover pasta, you may want to add another splash of cream. Pasta always needs a little help with moisture when it comes to leftovers, but the extras are tasty anyway!