Pasta is the ultimate foodie pleasure. In fact, according to research, 67% of Brits are enjoying a pasta-fuelled meal at least once a week. But how can we turn our bog-standard pasta dish into a delicious Italian meal? Italian chef, restauranteur and Bertolli ambassador Gennaro Contaldo shares his list of tips and tricks when cooking pasta in the kitchen.
1. Always cook with chilli.
Not too spicy, because that'll ruin the dish, but enough to intensify the flavour.
2. When cooking with prawns, use them to infuse the water you're going to cook the pasta in for added flavour.
3. When cooking with courgette,
shred it, then squeeze the shredded courgette to remove any excess water. It's then a lot easier to cook.
4. If you're cooking with wine, use the wine you're going to be drinking at the dinner table in the food.
5. Don't overpower your dish with sauce, you need to be able to taste and enjoy the pasta too.
6. Be adventorous with pasta shapes. There are approximately 350 different types of pasta around the world. My most recent invention is a cone-shaped pasta that can be boiled or baked - The Bertollini.
7. If you're making your own, try your hand at making pasta using just semolina and water. It's a completely different flavour.
8. If you want to cook pasta like a proper Italian, it should boil it for one to five minutes and no more.
9. Don't feel as though you HAVE to cook with oil, an olive oil spread will add a different flavour.
10. If you're baking a pasta dish in the oven, always cook with the shiny side of tin foil downwards.
11. When melting butter on the hob, remove from the heat while doing so, so it doesn't burn.
12. When making a veggie pasta dish cut all the vegetables to the same small size so it cooks evenly.
13. Always salt your water, but don't add too much. The recommended amount is 10g for every three litres of water.
14. When adding lemon to the dish squeeze the lemon facing towards your palm so the pips don't get into the food.
15. Avoid garlic if necessary. It isn't a necessity when cooking pasta, and should only be added if the taste and smell of the onion you're using isn't good enough.
16. Add tomato vines to the pasta water. Make slits in the vine and bung them into the water with the pasta. It gives just a little added something to the flavour.
17. If you're cooking a dish and the pasta goes slightly cold, there's no need to reheat, just splash hot water on it and continue.