Why would I want a dedicated pasta pot/insert?
Received an 8-qt. stainless Williams-Sonoma pasta pot with insert for Christmas. It's lovely but I am considering exchanging it for something else.
I make pasta frequently but am confused why this should be better than any of my stockpots (have 2 or 3) plus my beautiful wide 1940-ish enameled colander.
The W-S pot can't even be used as a steamer; the insert goes almost all the way to the bottom.
If you can inform me why this pot is a better idea than what I have, I'm all ears -- maybe I'll keep it.
I like the inserts because I don't like carrying the heavy pot of water to the sink to dump. I also like to use the inserts when I make stock, easy to lift the bones and vegs out of the stock. I don't like that 8qt one from W-S though. I'm actually without a pot like this at the moment but keep looking at the 12qt from All-clad with both the steamer and the pasta inserts. (don't like the W-S version of that AllClad pot either though as the insert is mesh.)
I gave my mom my old Calphalon pot with insert. Someday I'll get around to replacing it....when I have nothing else to buy. So no, it's not a necessity but I think it's a nice item to have.
I just got one for Christmas (All-Clas d5) and I live it for the reasons you mentioned. I have weak wrists (so I get heavy cookware LOL) and have always found it awkward to drain pasta. I do wish it had legs though because when I make stock, I use a masher to get all the liquid from the veggies and I don't have a mill ... yet.
To answer the OP's question, if you make for example, ravioli, the insert is gentler on the pasta and there is less breakage when draining.
Silly question perhaps, but why are pasta inserts (when sold separately) so expensive? I was looking at the Henckels Classic Clad pasta insert for an 8-qt pot, and it's 60 bucks... IMHO a bit pricey for something that isn't even going to touch the stovetop. The specs do say that it sits 2" above the bottom of the pot (when used with their 8 qt stockpot, that is) so at least it could be used as a steamer (if I didn't already own a dedicated electric one...).
I did a quick search for "stainless pasta insert" and the least expensive result was $50 (ironically, it's by Scanpan, which is normally pricey BUT that one was for their 6 1/2 qt pot, not an 8 qt one).
Why the $$$$ for something that's in essence a glorified strainer?
i have been looking into getting one, i can think of all kinds of things to use to for besides pasta, such as the already mentioned stocks and sauces, blanching vegetables, etc. i also think its a great idea because i love to use pasta water as a finisher for my sauces, but if you have to drain the pasta to get it outta the pot, then its much more of a hassle to use than if you can just lift the pasta outta the pot and leave the water there!
I don't have that particular model or brand but one thing I like is the ability to drain the pasta and then tilt the insert at a 45 degree angle and leave it on top of the pot. If I need to refresh the pasta all I do is put the insert back into the water, wait a little and drain again.