Rick Martínez On The Biggest Pasta Mistake You're Making - Exclusive

As your cooking skills improve, you come to the realization of just how important pasta water is. In fact, it's an essential ingredient for producing a tasty pasta sauce that is much needed for your favorite dishes. As far as the pasta itself, arguably, pasta al dente is the best way to go, no matter if it's homemade or boxed. But with endless myths out there about cooking pasta, it can be difficult to decipher which tips you should follow and which you should toss out the window.

While we may not be able to bust every single meal myth out there (not for lack of trying), Chef Rick Martínez did let us know one very important pasta rule that will change the way you make the dish. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Martínez divulged his best Mexican recipes ahead of the New York Times Food Festival and even named his favorite Mexican-influenced pasta dish (Sopa Seca). When talking about no-cook summer pastas, he also revealed the biggest pasta mistake you're making — and thankfully, it's a simple fix.

Never under-salt your pasta water

To salt or not to salt? That seems to be the never-ending cooking question. Rick Martínez put the debate to rest as he told Mashed, "Whenever I make pasta for my friends, or even in professional kitchens, I'll get a comment, 'Wow, this tastes like pasta from a restaurant.' I didn't really understand what that meant until I was like, 'It's because people get really shy or afraid of salting their pasta water.' You really do need to salt it to the point where the water is almost inedibly salty." In fact, Martínez advised salting your pasta water until it's "almost stronger than seawater."

According to the cookbook author, about "10% of the weight of the water" should be salt. If the pasta water is under-seasoned, you may only taste the sauce rather than the pasta. Martínez added that the only exception to this rule is if you are using the pasta water specifically for the sauce, as you don't want the sauce to be overly salty. Otherwise, the former Bon Appétit senior editor recommended heavily seasoning for both fresh and boxed pasta: "If you have good pasta, then you want to taste it."

Learn more about the New York Times Food Festival on their website. Check out Rick Martínez's website to keep up with his current projects.