2

I would like to cook pasta twice, with a cooling phase before the second cooking. Unfortunately, I’ve found that reheating pasta isn’t easy: I would like to keep it al dente and prevent tangling/sticking. It is also important to heat it all the way through both times, and to cool it down completely in between.

So far I’ve tried simply cooking the pasta again, for a short time. But unsurprisingly it becomes soggy. It also became bland (I didn’t add salt the second time). Is there a better way?

(For what it’s worth, this is for store-bought, dried pasta; I rarely have the time to make fresh pasta, and I wouldn’t want to ruin it by cooking it twice.)


If anybody is wondering why cook it twice, it’s a matter of nutrition.

  • 1
    Does the second cook have to be boiling? I bet there are interesting applications with, say, fried or baked pasta... – senschen Apr 27 '18 at 11:36
  • @senschen It doesn’t, but I would like the end product to be similar to cooked pasta. So frying and baking are out for now (they are of course both delicious in their own right but that’s a solved problem). In this question, I want to find a healthier way of cooking pasta. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 27 '18 at 11:38
  • 1
    Yes, but you can also bake (not so much fry, I'll admit) in sauce or with whatever you were planning on serving your pasta with-- think lasagna. That's still regular cooked pasta, but with the boil-first noodles it is twice-cooked. – senschen Apr 27 '18 at 12:06
  • Hi Konrad Rudolph, nutrition is off topic. The core question is on topic, but your wording at the beginning was going too deeply into the health side of things. So I reworded, leaving just a minimum of info to prevent people from asking "why are you doing such a strange thing". – rumtscho Apr 27 '18 at 17:51
  • @rumtscho Fair enough. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 27 '18 at 17:55
3

In college, I would oil the pasta lightly after cooking (so it didn't turn into a giant lump), then would steam it 'til it was warm, and add it to hot sauce. I was typically working with linguini or other strand pasta. I'd start it in the steamer for a bit, then turn the mass over. As it softened up, I'd lift it with a fork or tongs to re-distribute it, and try to break up any lumps.

These days, I'm more likely to use a microwave than steaming.

You can also portion it out into oven-safe containers w/ some sauce, maybe a cheese or breadcrumb topping, and reheat it in the oven. This works well for any size/shape of pasta (although I admit I've never tried angel hair or similar size, as I hate cooking them). Reheat covered at 300 to 350F, then once the middle is warm, uncover and brown under the broiler

2

The technique you are referencing is the standard practice in almost any restaurant. Par cooking, then finishing at the time of service is how any good (and not so good) pasta you have had in a restaurant is prepared.

To get this technique right, you have to experiment a little. For a pasta that has 9 minute cooking time (many dried Fettucini), start by cooking some and stopping 3 minutes short. Now drain and run cold water over the pasta until cool and not clumpy. In restaurants, this pasta is then oiled and portioned into bags.

When I do this I like to drain into another pot, so I do not lose that cooking water. Some of it is good for the reheat of the pasta and sauce. Regardless, get water to the boil and season it, then plunge the pasta back in. This will finish the cooking and hopefully accomplish your goal. This can also be done right in the pan with your sauce or sauteed veggies, etc. Just have enough liquid to finish the pasta cooking.

Really comes down to time and temperature control and a little experimentation.

  • That part is very definitely not the same where I live. I go to a restaurant, I expect fresh pasta. Fresh pasta takes 2-3 minutes of cooking in total, so you very definitely do not par-cook it. – Galastel Apr 28 '18 at 22:16
  • Good point. I am speaking about mainstream USA restaurants. Thank you. Restaurants that 'get it' about pasta will make or have fresh... – MarsJarsGuitars-n-Chars Apr 30 '18 at 12:47
1

I imagine that you can cook your pasta normally, perhaps slightly under done, cool, then place in a bag and reheat using a water bath and immersion circulator. You will not get to 100C (212 F) because most circulators will not allow a boil, but you can get within a few degrees. This will allow you to precisely control your re-warming step, and also avoid a rolling boil, which might be contributing to the pasta breaking apart. If you don't have a circulator, you could reproduce the effect with careful monitoring on the stove top. This could be an advantage for homemade pasta.

Alternately, and perhaps more simply, the article states that the pasta was just re-heated. If you are using store bought, dried pasta, why not cook to a minute under-done, cool in ice bath, then add to the pan with your condiment to reheat and finish cooking? You could even save the pasta cooking water to finish the sauce in your pan.

  • 1
    I do have an immersion cooker. That said, I think your second advice might actually be more practical. – Konrad Rudolph Apr 27 '18 at 12:42
1

Pre or par cooking is commonly used by restaurants.

When the water returns to a full, rolling boil, cook the pasta for exactly two minutes, then drain, shock in ice water, and drain again. Note: Strand pasta like spaghetti or linguine will be brittle, so handle them with care. Place the pasta in a container large enough to hold it, then add enough olive oil to just coat each strand. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Parboiled pasta will keep, refrigerated, for four to six hours.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.