How To Take Your Pasta To The Next Level

We are always looking for new ways to add flavor to our favorite pasta dishes, something that will help make perfect pasta every single time. From rigatoni to pappardelle and all the choices in between, there are so many pasta shapes to choose from when creating a carb-laden dish. Most people know that pasta starts off in boiling water, but you might be surprised to learn there are some better ways out there to get your pasta cooked — and bursting with flavor.

You may already be aware of the simple tip of salting the boiling water before adding the pasta, or even the lesser-known hack of boiling your pasta in a liquid other than water to help liven up the pasta. While cooking tips like these are used to create more flavor in something that starts out a little bland, there are even more ways to spruce up your pasta. Here are two more tips that can help bring your pasta to the next level so you are well equipped for every type of dish, even recipes for busy nights.

Bake it, don't boil it

The first tip for new and improved pasta is to cook it in the oven instead of boiling it on the stove. You may see this sometimes in those viral TikTok videos where people pour uncooked pasta into a baking dish and a few other ingredients and add water. Just about 30 minutes later it comes out of the oven looking fully cooked and ready to eat. And there's a real difference between baked pasta and cooked pasta. This is an interesting idea because we technically do have baked pasta recipes (lasagna and baked ziti to name a couple), however, in this instance it's suggested to skip the pre-cooking of the pasta and go straight to the oven with the dry stuff.

It can be an easy mistake to overcook your pasta if you are making a baked pasta dish, in fact, it's one of the top 10 mistakes everyone makes when cooking pasta. You get into the groove of cooking your regular al dente that you forget to take it out sooner than usual. This can leave you with some mushy noodles after the oven because the pasta continues to cook in the oven surrounded by all that sauce (via Bon Appétit). If you put the pasta in the oven uncooked altogether, it can cook within the sauce creating a whole new concoction of pasta, cheese, and sauce. 

Toast the pasta

Anther tip for next-level pasta is to toast it in the oven before boiling it. When you put it in the oven and allow it to turn golden, it gives the pasta a different texture and a toasty, nutty flavor, according to Food & Wine Culinary Director-at-Large, Justin Chapple. In an interview with POPSUGAR., Chapple offered his tips for game-changing pasta and says that toasting it "gives it this chew that's really fun."

This technique seems to have some popularity around it. One Redditor noticed it on television and asked what the results look like. Many answered, saying that they toasted their pasta on the stove and in the oven, sometimes with garlic and onions for even more flavor. One user shared that they do it with "tortellini and then steam it rather than boiling. It is delicious. Usually serve with shallots, peas and lemon cream."  

Food52 has a step-by-step on how to toast pasta if you're interested in the new technique. These tips and tricks will help you make pasta recipes that are dangerously delicious.