Saucing pasta

How do you sauce your pasta? I am not talking about things where the sauce must be created with the pasta like cacio e pepe. I am talking about sauce made in one pan that will be used with pasta made in another pan. Some toss the pasta in the sauce pot, mix it, and serve it. Personally I would be afraid of getting too much sauce. So I put the pasta in a bowl, add some sauce (thinned with a little of the salty, starchy pasta water or monter au beurre if needed) and toss with the tongs I used to fish the pasta out of its pot… Sometimes the bigger things like shrimp or mushrooms end up at the bottom. I use the tongs to ensure each serving gets some. Others serve the pasta with sauce ladled over it. One even lets each diner select how much of each they would like. I do like to put freshly grated cheese out for people to use as they will. So how do you go about it?

So what are YOUR preferences and tricks?

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Pasta drained and put back in the pan. Some of the sauce stirred through. Plated. It may or may not need some more sauce on top. Grated Parmesan in a separate serving dish.

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While there are a number of pasta dishes I do cook in sauce, I usually prefer plain pasta with a glop of sauce on top, with other ingredients (cheese, peppers, etc.) on the side. Much like having salsa/guac/cheese/etc. on the side for tacos, burritos, or chips, as opposed to dressing everything up using a single method only I define. It allows guests (and me too) to create the bites I/they want.

Of course you can’t really do this with a lasagna, carbonara, or cannelloni/manicotti. But most pasta that is simply sauced allows for separating/adding things that can result in decidedly different, and delicious alternatives.

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I always add pasta to the sauce in the pan, with some pasta cooking water if needed. The “too much sauce” thing is only an issue with red sauces, which I usually make more than one serving of at a time. So I ladle out the extra sauce and pack it to freeze, and then I finish the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. If I’m making scampi or white clam sauce or what have you, I’m only making the amount of sauce I need for that meal.

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I undercook pasta (dry & fresh) by about a minute, then take out of the pot and add to the sauce. I don’t like heavily sauced pasta, so I also tend to be sparse with tomato-based sauces. Extra splash of pasta water as needed.

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Pasta and sauce always served separately. Too many different preferences at the table, so each to his own.

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I have 2 methods.
The first one is to undercook the pasta by about 4 minutes then let the pasta hang out with the sauce to flavour and finish cooking.
The second one is to add al dente cooked pasta in a large bowl and toss the sauce (which I have thickened with ladles of pasta water) together with the pasta so I’m not serving my pasta naked.
I may top with a little more sauce.
This works for Bolognese type sauces with Spaghetti or Rigatoni dishes.

Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Romano Pecorino and Grana Padano it really depends on the dish.
If it is a Bolognese sauce, I’ll add a little grated cheese to the sauce and option for everyone to add more at the table.
For a red sauce, I’ll leave the grated cheese at the table for anyone who wants grated cheese.

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All I do with spaghetti is drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, cracked pepper, and a little parm. Maybe a little lemon zest. Sometimes I add it back to a hot pan with garlic/scallions.

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The thread sounded so good I made it. Fusilli was all that was on hand. I tossed in some fried garlic chips. :drooling_face: Thanks for the dinner idea.

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I’m with @Harters. Pasta cooked and drained (or if my brain is on the ball that evening, pasta just cooked when sauce is ready) and then added to a pan where I usually have other ingredients sauteed. If I have my timing right, I scoop out pasta and a bit of the pasta water is added as well to help. Mix in a just enough sauce to thinly coat pasta, add in any final fancy flourishes, and plate.

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I’m also in the “undercook the pasta and finish it in the pan with the sauce” camp. If there is too much sauce, like on a big Bolognese batch day, then enough of the sauce that I’d need gets evacuated to a smaller pan to sauce the amount of pasta I need, with a little pasta water as needed (or a little more sauce over the top after plating).

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Pretty much this. If no sauce is put on the pasta, it gets stuck together.

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I do it your way. I don’t like my pasta oversauced, So I may go back and add/toss again gently after any bigger chunks go in.

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Many years ago, I departed from my family/childhood routine of plopping sauce on top of fully cooked pasta and turned to the approach of linguafood above, and I never looked back from there. But I did notice that when I served pasta to my Northeast USA friends accustomed to American-Italian immigrant style, they were sometimes taken aback.

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Many years ago, because of my childrens’ likes and dislikes, I started serving the pasta and the sauce in 2 different bowls. Now that is the only way I serve it. One child did not like anything but butter, pepper, and parmesan on her pasta, and the other wanted lots of sauce. My husband wanted some sauce. I was in the middle, and liked in between lots of sauce and some sauce.
Never, in the many, many years, had pasta to stick to itself. The parmesan or whatever cheese was always served on the table for each individual to put their own desired amount on the pasta.

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My experience exactly.

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Cooking is like language. There is the version in the book, which goes by the rules, and then there is the version which people actually use.

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Pasta really has no flavor that I can discern. It’s a medium that carries flavor. It just makes sense that finishing the pasta in the sauce allows the pasta to absorb flavor. I’ve done it that way for years and notice just about every TV chef does too. But whatever works for you is fine. Im not eating your pasta…. you are.

I just watched a cooking show done by a popular local TV news anchor here in SoCal. One thing she ‘made’ was a bagel and lox spread that included sliced cucumber, avocado, and green bell pepper…… in addition to tomatoes, red onion, capers, cream cheese and lemon. I’ve never in my life ever experience those first three anywhere near a bagel and lox…… but HEY…. whatever.

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I live in Texas and the closest thing to New York bagels is a couple of blocks away. The people in line ahead of me order bagels along those lines AND they want them toasted and cut in half vertically as well as being sliced. Yikes! I always ask for untoasted with a plain schmear, no second cut, and no wrapping, so I can eat it while I drive. Obviously no one around here ever ate a bagel standing in a subway car!

I find that fresh egg pasta made with a good bit of semolina has a lot of flavor.

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That spread might just be proof of the fabled SOCAL cultural fusion we hear so much about! Does it require re-purposing a hollow grind deba to push cut the cream cheese?

Seriously, though, if it tastes good, go for it.

I actually think even plain pasta has flavor, just not a lot.