The Real Difference Between Baked Pasta And Cooked Pasta

Pasta has held a special place in our hearts from the very beginning. According to Pasta Fits, the first recorded instance of pasta dates back to the 4th century BC, with images of people making noodles depicted on an Etruscan tomb. Fast forward to the present day, and America leads the way in terms of pasta consumption. According to Food Business News, the U.S. eats the most pasta worldwide, topping out at 2.7 million pounds consumed — beating out even Italy! With the country's hearty love affair with pasta still in full swing, many creative home cooks have found new and exciting ways to prepare the dish.

While many of us prepare pasta by boiling the noodles and coating them with sauce, anyone who bakes pasta must first boil their noodles until they are halfway cooked, then finish them off in the oven. This key cooking difference sets both styles apart. According to The Oklahoman, those of us who want to create the ultimate pasta bake have the extra challenge of having to halfway boil the noodles before setting them in the oven, creating a slew of new problems. 

If you overboil the pasta before baking, you'll end up with overcooked noodles in the final bake, while underboiling results in an unpleasant, crunchy texture (via The Oklahoman). The key difference between baked and boiled pasta lies in the cook time difference, but with one easy trick, you can help bridge the styles to create the ultimate pasta dish.

How do you prepare noodles for baked pasta?

If you feel pressed for time and want to feed a group, a simple kitchen hack can supercharge your pasta bake preparation time. According to The Oklahoman, you can avoid the hassle of boiling pasta before you bake it by alternatively soaking the noodles in warm, salted water before you assemble the dish. The process of presoaking allows you to not only hydrate your pasta in a similar fashion that halfway boiling the noodles achieves, you also can wash off some extra starch and season the noodles with the added salt, making it the ultimate way to create the best pasta bake while saving time in the kitchen — no boiling necessary! (via The Oklahoman).

With this special trick, you never have to worry about overboiling or undercooking noodles for a pasta bake ever again and can keep your dinner plans on track. If you have struggled with finding the right consistency for noodles in the past, this tip can save you so much mental energy and can completely streamline your cooking. If you haven't presoaked your pasta before, tonight is the night to indulge in a hassle-free, luxuriously gooey pasta bake that's cooked to perfection.