You've Been Cooking Pasta All Wrong, According To Scott Conant - Exclusive

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If you're going to take pasta advice from anybody, celebrity chef Scott Conant is an ideal candidate. The James Beard Award winner and "Peace, Love, and Pasta" author is a true macaroni maestro. Take his iconic Pasta Pomodoro, which takes the seemingly basic spaghetti and tomato sauce combo to extraordinary heights (via Today).

Speaking of spaghetti, Conant implores you to keep it intact. We're not sure how the trend of snapping a fistful of strands in half got started — perhaps people opted for pots that were too small or they simply need an outlet to release some pent-up tension — but regardless, it needs to end pronto. "The pasta has integrity," Conant said in an exclusive interview with Mashed. "And that length is there for a reason, right? How you pick up the pasta is by twirling your fork."

As for saucing your pasta, Conant has advice for that too. "Sometimes people take the pasta out of the water, put it on a platter, and put the sauce on top, which is challenging also, just because of the amount of liquid that kind of pools up on the bottom of the platter," he said. "Again, it all boils down to being a little bit more thoughtful and just kind of that reverence for the product itself."

Salt your pasta water, but not too much

You may already be aware that salting your pasta water is an absolute must, as it helps to season your noodles. But the question is how much should you add. "A lot of people say it should taste like the ocean," said Scott Conant. "I think it depends on which ocean you're talking about."

Conant recommends not having too heavy of a hand with your seasoning. "I like to utilize that pasta cooking liquid, that pasta water, inside the sauces when I'm sautéing the pasta afterwards," he said. "So if it's too salty, it's going to reduce with that sauce and then make your dish overall too salty. So I like to season it so it tastes like a really good neutral broth. And if you season it the right way and you taste it, and it has almost a broth-like saline content, that way you could utilize it for the sauces that you're cooking as well."

While Italians may not be guilty of these pasta faux pas, Conant has some words of advice for them as well. He noted, "There's a deep understanding that Italians will sit at a restaurant and argue with the waiter to make sure that, is that chicken, is it free range? Is it ruspante? What's the pasta like? What kind of flour was it made with?" But Conant made clear that is certainly not his M.O. "If someone's going to ask me those questions and come to my house for dinner, I would say, 'What are you talking about? Just shut up, sit down and eat and enjoy yourself.'"

You can catch Scott Conant on new episodes of "Chopped." And be sure to test your newfound pasta knowledge by picking up his new book "Peace, Love, and Pasta" which features Conant's fabulous recipes.