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Dec 30, 2008 09:40 AM

Cooking pasta without continual boiling

A friend who is not a good cook insists that it is unnecessary to keep the water boiling.
She brings water to a boil, adds the pasta, and once the water returns to boiling, stirs it, covers it, and turns off the burner, setting the timer for the minutes specified on the package. Skeptically, I tried this with a pound of rotini, and it worked perfectly, without any boil-over. Of course, the shape of rotini makes them unlikely to stick together - although my friend says her spaghetti doesn't clump when cooked this way, either. Not using extra electricity or gas is a plus, as is less kitchen heat in hot weather. I am also thinking that the pasta pot could "multi-task" by simultaneously making pasta and hard-boiled eggs.

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  1. If this works with spaghetti etc. sign me up! I just got my gas bill and I nearly had a heart attack.

    2 Replies
    1. re: krisrishere


      I made Pasta Carbonara today using three jumbo eggs, frozen peas, Italian parsley, Pancetta, shallots, Philadelphia Cream Cheese Ronzoni Brand Thin Spaghetti. Directions call for 9-11 minutes cooking time, depending on how you like your pasta.....Yes I know this is not a traditional recipe,,,but I did not have enough Parmigiano Reggiano in the house....and I needed to use up the items left over from the holidays.

      Boiled the water....added the pasta....returned to boil .....turned off stove, a quick stir of the pasta and covered for 10 minutes......removed pasta without any sticking and added it to the mixture....tossed and served perfectly. There was still enough heat to cook the egg and coat the pasta....this was done about 3:00 PM and it's now midnight with no ill effects....from undercooked eggs.

      I will cook my pasta with this method from now on...I am a convert.

      I started

      1. re: fourunder

        That's great! I will try it out this weekend! Thank you.

    2. Greygarious: I remember that technique from years ago, and while I used to employ it, I can't remember why I stopped. It may warrant a revisit.

      Certainly, at the very least, you can multitask the water. I've seen veggies thrown in to the pot with the pasta, i.e., broccoli or green beans for a pasta dish. But I start my eggs in cold water, bring to boil, turn off, time. Maybe you could do the eggs first, take out, use the same water, bring to a second boil, salt, add pasta, time. You'd at least have a head start on the water being close to a boil.

      16 Replies
      1. re: nemo

        Nemo, I do HB eggs the same way - so all this would mean is adding the pasta to the pot once it's boiling, and since it only takes a moment to return to a boil, the eggs and pasta would be sitting together with the burner off for almost the same amount of time. Usually the eggs need a few minutes longer - instead of pouring off the water I'd scoop the pasta out with a spider or a spaghetti tong. Supposedly adding salt to the water for HB eggs means if an egg cracks it will seal shut quickly rather than trailiing a lot of white, so that part also dovetails nicely with cooking pasta.

        GHG, I've done eggs and then returned the water to a boil after removing them, then cooked pasta or other things, like soup stock, in that water and never detected any off odors or tastes.

        1. re: greygarious

          every single time i make hard-cooked eggs (and i make them quite frequently) i notice a residual odor that clings to the pot after i dump out the water...and it's not a scent i'd like to have mingling with any other food. then again, i have a sense of smell like a bloodhound, so i detect even the faintest odors that most people would never notice.

          it's wonderful for the palate, but can also be a nuisance in certain situations - like at the gym ;)

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            By any chance do you use an aluminum pan? (Somehow I seriously doubt that!) I boil eggs in stainless steel lined copper and haven't noticed any residual odor, and I have a nose from hell! However, when I cool my eggs I always do it by putting the pan in the sink and running cold water to displace the hot, then adding ice. Maybe I'm washing all of the odor away?

            As for the original question of whether pasta cooks in less than boiling temperature water, yes, it does. And it's an effective means of preventing boil-over in a full pot. But you cannot use the cooking time on a past package, but have to rely on the traditional tasting method of biting the pasta with your teeth..

            1. re: Caroline1

              Caroline, maybe you are washing it away! i typically drain the eggs off in a strainer and then transfer them immediately to an ice bath that i've already prepared. the cooling time gives me a chance to tackle the pot with a soapy sponge and hot water ASAP, because i can't stand the smell!

              oh, and i've used uncoated stainless and coated non-stick pots. doesn't make a difference - they all stink.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                LOL! So now I'm wondering if there is an odor in this world I'm not overly aware of? YAY! Either that, or how old did you say your eggs are when you boil them? Aging eggs is supposed to make them easier to peel. '-)

                1. re: Caroline1

                  i do usually reserve older eggs for hard-cooking to make the peeling easier...but i don't always remember to stock up in advance to let them "age" so occasionally i have to use really fresh ones. those reek too :)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    i have a very sensitive sense of smell also and cannot tolerate commercial eggs for this reason. organic free-range eggs don't have that same odor.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      hmmm... Because of allergies, I have to restrict my eggs to organic free range. Could that be why I'm not aware of an odor? But as GHG says, I probably wash it away with my cold water displacement and ice bath.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        i only use organic eggs, and they still stink!

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          Organic vs not has 110% zero effect on whether or not eggs will have a smell. I think we've lost the subject here. It was never explicitly stated, but I think the concern was the fact that if you cooked eggs and pasta in the same pot, would it negatively affect the pasta flavor.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                try rubbing the pot with lemon and then re-wash

                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                  oh, removing the odor after i'm finished isn't the issue - a thorough washing takes care of it. my point was that i wouldn't want that odor to cling to any other foods, were i to cook something in the pot along with the eggs, or re-use the water to boil something after.

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Could you not cook the eggs in a bag and eliminate the chance of smell or flavor getting out?

                  1. re: Scargod

                    that's a solution...but honestly i'm so used to it now, it's par for the course - i just don't breathe through my nose until i'm finished washing the pot ;) seriously though, i'd rarely have a need for the water to do double duty - i can't eat pasta, and on the rare occasion that i'm blanching veggies, i'm not usually hard-cooking eggs at the same time.

                    one of these days i may try it just for kicks though.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      One pot cooking, blanched vegetables, noodles and deviled eggs well under half an hour. How did the Top Chef contestants not think of this one? ;-)

                      1. re: chowser

                        i've cooked boiled eggs and potatoes in the same pot for potato salad. it was ok, but the timing is weird....

            2. i'm all for multi-tasking and saving energy, but personally, i wouldn't re-use water from cooking eggs, or cook anything else in the pot with them...unless you want the musty odor of eggshells (or possibly sulfur) in your food.

              1. I make my rice in a similar fashion--cold water to 1 pinkie nail above top of rice, bring to boil, cover, remove from stove, and let sit 20 minutes. Works every time with no burnt rice on the bottom (you must, however, use a well-fitted lid or a liner, ie paper towel if your lid isn't fitted).

                While I've done this with pasta, it's usually only for stuffed, dried pasta for the kids. Or for a fast personal snack when I want gooey, over-cooked pasta (which I would never serve to guests).

                It's harder to cook to al dente with this method. To prevent boil-over, have you tried using a cast-iron pan (larger than the bottom of your pasta pot) underneath? It will provide for even heating which can prevent boil over.

                1. Okay, I admit I was a skeptic but decided to try this tonight. It worked perfectly. No sticky noodles, al dente. I heard it almost boil over so I lifted the pot a second until it stopped and then put it back on the burner w/ residual heat. With boiled eggs, though, I remove the pan from the burner altogether once it comes to a boil and I do a soft boil so I couldn't do eggs at the same time. Isn't this the idea of the Pasta Express? I remember seeing an infomercial on it.


                  6 Replies
                    1. re: greygarious

                      Rotini, also, whole wheat which I find tends to stick more. But, it wasn't at all sticky so I believe it would work for all shapes.

                    2. re: chowser

                      I was going to buy the pasta express when it was on clearance at a store for $2 but it looked so CHEAP and flimsy like it would totally fall apart. Plus the sales lady was skeptical about it working too.. the reviews on it were terrible. Wouldn't recommend it.

                      I need to try this method though, sounds interesting.

                      1. re: BamiaWruz

                        The pasta express is an abomination and goes against pretty much every rec on how to properly cook pasta (i.e. lots of water). turning off the heat and covering is definitely different. The pasta will just take a little longer to cook

                      2. re: chowser

                        What happpened to the "Fasta Pasta" posts? I mean, just because I posted a picture of a whip!
               Does this thing work?

                        1. re: Scargod

                          Oh this one goes in the microwave.. never tried it. I still make my pasta in the microwave, it turns out great.. just need a microwave safe bowl, a lot of water and then you put the pasta in with salt and let it microwave.