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Rinse Pasta after Cooking?

Often wondered. I've always been told that after draining the starchy water used to cook pasta that the pasta should be rinsed. Does it really matter?

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    1. I only rinse if I'm making a cold pasta salad.

      4 Replies
        1. re: kitchensalli

          yeppers, only rinse if making a salad.

        2. I rinse if I'm not adding sauce to it right away when it's hot. In other words, if you're serving it plain so people can add their own sauce or you're saving it in the fridge to have ready (I have a small child).

          4 Replies
          1. re: amyvc

            The classic drill for pasta served with a sauce is to remove it very briefly to a colander before it is even al dente-ready-for-eating but do not rinse. Put pasta in a already heated pot with some of the hot sauce and a couple T butter and cook on high, stirring for about 30 seconds. You want the pasta to cook a little in the sauce rather than in water to absorb some sauce and at that point you can add as much more heated sauce as you need and mix in, or if the sauce seems too thick you thin it with the starchy pasta water. Just remember the 2 most important things: do not overcook your pasta and do not use too much sauce. You want to be able to taste the noodle itself.

            1. re: niki rothman

              This has been my routine as well except for the butter. Do you add butter for taste or to give the sauce a sheen?

              1. re: Scagnetti

                Adding (or "mounting") cold butter into a sauce after it is off direct heat acts as a liaison for the sauce.

                1. re: Karl S

                  I never thought about the consistency of the sauce but adding butter improves the flavor of a red sauce noticeably. I learned to add a knob of butter watching the Sopranos. Ralphie shows young Jackie junior how to finish off the pasta by doing the process I described of quickly draining it (but not rinsing) and cooking it in a few ladlesfull of sauce and and what looks like 2 T butter for a pound of pasta - for the last 30 seconds. I've also seen Lidia Bastianich do the same thing.

          2. Yes, it matters a lot. Do not do it unless you are making a cold pasta salad.

            Do not throw away all of that pasta water. Save a mug of it before you drain it away. INstead of finishing the pasta in the water, take the pasta out a bit undone and finish cooking that pasta in the sauce. Add some of that pasta cooking water and reduce the liquid down until it is no longer puddling markedly. The starch in the pasta cooking water will help the sauce glaze the pasta.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Karl S

              Better yet, pour some of that pasta water into the pasta dishes to preheat them.

              1. re: vanillagrrl

                Yes. I sometimes drain pasta that way. As people here know, I like to bleat about the need to serve pasta in warmed dishes.

            2. Karl S, you took the words right out of my mouth. The starch in the pasta does actually help the sauce to adhere. The finishing of the pasta until al dente IN the sauce, together with a bit of the pasta cooking water, marries the pasta and its sauce, so that the pasta is actually absorbing some of the sauce as it finishes cooking.

              Otherwise, you have pasta and you have sauce, and there's no cohesion.

              1. i usually add just a drizzle of olive oil,unless i'm adding sauce right away. It adds a nice flavor and keeps it from sticking

                1. I always rinse my pasta, just briefly, with very hot water. Then it's back into the pot for a light coating of olive oil and/or combined with the sauce. The pasta gets slightly firmer and retains flavor better. The same goes for all noodles, including soba etc. Makes a much better and quality noodle this way. Not rinsing creates a sub optimal dish.

                  1. It makes a huge difference!
                    While cooking the pasta, put an empty cup into your colander. This will remind you to take some of the cooking water before you drain the pasta. The cooking water greatly enhances the sauce (I assume we are talking red sauce). Do not rinse the pasta.

                    AND the knob (or more for some of us) of butter is excellent.

                    Only rinse the pasta if it is being served cold or at room temp in a salad.