Cool Tip: The Magic of Pasta Water
Piper to Universe: Why didn’t anybody tell me about pasta water? It used to be the detritus that I eagerly threw away after making I realize: it’s pasta magic!

You know how, when you have a really good pasta dish at a good restaurant, the sauce just clings to the pasta? Well, mine never did! My pasta sauce was great, and my pasta was nicely al dente, but it was like they were in 2 different counties--they just didn’t really stay together. And getting a bite that had an adequate sauce-to-pasta ratio was always tough.

Finally, at one restaurant with a particularly good simple pasta dish, I asked the waiter how they made the sauce grab the pasta and not let go. He actually went back to the kitchen to find out, and here’s what I learned:
  1. Under cook the pasta by about a minute: so, if the pasta package says ‘cook for 11 minutes’, then stop cooking and drain the pasta after 10 minutes.
  2. When you drain the pasta, save the water, which is now nice and starchy; this is the most important step in any pasta dish.
  3. In the same pot or skillet that you’ve made your sauce, add the slightly under cooked pasta and about ½ cup [~120ml] of the pasta water to the sauce, cook over medium heat until the sauce is emulsified  - thickened but still creamy: clinging for dear life to the individual pieces of pasta, and the pasta is still al dente. No matter the type of pasta - from linguini to spaghetti to fusilli - this step should take about 3-4 minutes on medium heat. This is where “cooking” comes in: use your judgment! Add, or cook-off, the pasta water, until it all comes together, in that just-so balance you love!
  4. Now enjoy it and feel like you’re in a great Italian restaurant!
And here’s one of our favorite recipes that uses this technique: Cacio E Pepe With Morels and Peas.

(For more information on why pasta water is so great, see this video from Serious Eats)