Monday, August 09, 2010

Kitchen Science: "Two Minute" Spaghetti (well not really)

I was going through my typical early Sunday afternoon ritual - listening to Splendid Table on the radio while driving up and down 83 from Wegman's to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, and maybe Giant. Somewhere around Padonia Road, my jaw dropped into my lap. Lynne Rosetto-Kasper's guest, Kate Heyhoe, author of Cooking Green: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in the Kitchen, was helping Lynne and listeners with some tips on how to cook in an environmentally-friendly way. A big part of this involves how much energy you use in your kitchen.

One of Heyhoe's suggestions caught both Lynne and myself off-guard: when boiling spaghetti, don't boil it until al dente. Instead, boil it for 2 minutes, and then do the following: turn off the heat but don't remove the pot from the burner, and cover the pot for the remainder of the time that the pasta would have to boil. It will turn out al dente. Needless to say, Lynne was skeptical, but willing to try it. I was almost as skeptical, but curious, so tonight I made up a nice basil-mint pesto* and did the two minute pasta thing.

It worked. The damn procedure worked! The reason it works is because the residual heat in the pot continues to cook the pasta while the lid is covered. Were I to take the pot off the burner or leave the lid off, it would not work. Heyhoe makes similar suggestions for baking things in the oven. You save 7 minutes of heating the kitchen by just, in essence, steaming the pasta until it's al dente. It's interesting enough that I will probably do this again.

* Hey, basil is in the mint family. Why not?


MJ said...

i use to do this all the time.. i thought people realized that you could do such and it would work.. Though typically i crack the lid so that the pot doesnt boil over.

Nanc Twop said...

oh this is great...

any idea if it works
on whole-wheat pasta?

*I'll let you know if I try it :)