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2 Simple Hacks That Will Take Your Pasta to the Next Level

PopSugar logo PopSugar 6/19/2017 Erin Cullum
How to Cook Pasta in Sauce Instead of Water © Half Baked Harvest How to Cook Pasta in Sauce Instead of Water

When I sat down with the man behind the captivating series Mad Genius Tips, Justin Chapple, deputy editor in Food and Wine's test kitchen and food-hack extraordinaire, I knew I was in for a treat. Justin literally wrote the book on food hacks: Mad Genius Tips: Over 90 Expert Hacks and 100 Delicious Recipes. I also knew I wanted to cut to the chase and ask Justin about his favorite mad genius tips for the most important food group: pasta. Unsurprisingly, as we chatted during the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Justin shared two brilliant (and easy) hacks that will help save you time in the kitchen and take the flavors of your pasta to the next level. Keep these creative tips in mind the next time you plan on making your favorite pasta recipe for dinner. 

GALLERY: 15 Life-Changing Cooking Secrets You Can Learn From Italians

15 Life-Changing Cooking Secrets You Can Learn From Italians: <p>The thing about <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/food/Italian-Cooking-Tips-42718058">Italian cooking</a> is that it's a lot simpler than Americans tend to believe. If you go to Italy, you'll quickly learn that the country values high-quality ingredients and freshly cooked meals above just about anything else when it comes to food. It's not about overly complex cooking techniques, but about starting with the best ingredients and figuring out how to pair them together, from homemade pasta to sauces and desserts. And once you learn some of the basic practices, you'll soon discover you can implement them in your own kitchen and start making your best <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/food/Classic-Italian-Sauce-Recipes-40525506">Italian meals</a> ever. </p><p>If you want to learn how to cook more authentically Italian, look no further than the following helpful cooking tips that I learned firsthand on a trip to Verona with <a href="http://www.giovanniranausa.com/">Giovanni Rana</a>, one of Italy's oldest brands of fresh pasta. I ate a whole lot of pasta to be sure, but I also learned just as much about it. </p><p>Related<br><a href="https://www.popsugar.com/food/How-Cook-Like-Italian-41840241">The 1 Thing I Learned in Italy That Changed the Way I Cook</a></p> 15 Life-Changing Cooking Secrets You Can Learn From Italians

1. Don't boil your pasta - cook it in the oven.

"My favorite mad genius tip for making pasta is to skip boiling the noodles. I love baked pastas; they're crowd pleasers and super easy. In my book, Mad Genius Tips, I teach you how to take everyday noodles like rigatoni or penne, and you just mix them in a big bowl with marinara sauce, meatballs, and cheese, and then you put it into a ceramic baking dish. Then just pour water over it - just enough to cover all the ingredients - then cover it with foil and bake it until the water is absorbed and the noodles are tender. When you boil noodles, they absorb a certain amount until they become al dente, and it's the same way if you bake them." Try it with the recipe pictured above, a four-cheese and sun-dried tomato baked pasta

2. Toast your pasta for a deeper flavor.

"Another one that adds a really fun twist to a pasta dish is [to] spread the noodles on a baking sheet when they're dry, toast them until they're golden, and then boil them. It gives it a little bit of a toasty flavor and also gives it this chew that's really fun."


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