Technique: How to Cook and Serve Pasta

It’s ok to simply combine the pasta + sauce and serve but there is a better way. When prepared properly you will get a better taste out of your dish. It also gives you an extra opportunity to add additional flavors to your dish and give your food a more restaurant quality. Best part is how quick and easy it is.

Pasta and Tomato sauce


Equipment: Sauté Pan, Stockpot, Cup

Start by filling the stockpot with water and bringing it to a boil. Once it is boiling add salt to the water. How much salt do you need? Depends on the amount of pasta and water. The water should be salty like the ocean.

Boiling Water

 Cook as directed by the packaging. I tend to cook it until al dente (it still has a little bite to it). Before it finishes cooking use a cup to take some of the pasta water. Once cooked drain but do not rinse! When you wash pasta it causes the starches in the pasta to wash away. These are important to help the pasta sauce stick to your pasta. Put the pasta in the sauté pan.

Cooked pasta


Pour enough of the pasta water on the pasta to lightly coat (depending on the amount of pasta this can be as little as a tablespoon or 2). The pasta water is an additional component that makes the sauce stick to the pasta. Add the desired amount of pasta sauce and put the burner to medium. I am using the garlic tomato sauce we previously made.

This is where you can play with the flavors.  At this point you can add any additional (already cooked) ingredient to the dish. I almost always add a little butter to increase the creaminess of the dish. Some ideas include additional vegetables, proteins (chicken, shrimp, etc), fresh spices, or seasonings. In this case I decided I wanted a spicy pasta so I added some Sriracha.

Mix for cooking

After cooking for a few minutes mix it and allow it to cook for a few more minutes. Plate and top with fresh cheese or spices if desired. Enjoy!

Cooking pasta

  • Anonymous

    Great directions, I’ll have to try it out!

    • Let me know how it turns out. I’d love to know what you put in it.

  • You just described my favorite technique for cooking and serving pasta!

    From the sea-salty water and al dente timing to the saute pan and reserved pasta water (even the addition of butter), when I want to do it right, this is how I do it.

    • It’s also great if your cooking for a bunch of people who have different tastes.

      You can do it by portion in the sauté pan and add different things for each person, individualizing the dish for everyone.

      • No doubt! Believe me, I’ve actually done that just for myself when I’ve refused to choose only one way to prepare my own pasta… I’ll let that speak volumes for my personality.

  • Mae

    Whoah!! I use that colander! I use a famous colander!! I think I used that pot last night, too, lol!

  • Sunshine

    Great tip with using a little extra pasta water. We used turkey kielbasa in ours last night.

  • kat

    Have you tried Marcella Hazan’s simple tomato sauce? I love her sauce! It’s my go-to sauce because it only needs 3 ingredients! I did a post on it, please check it out and let me know what you think! I’m new to this blogging thing and I love checking out foodie blogs!