There’s a fascinating story by Harold McGee in The New York Times today, about starting pasta in a smaller amount of water than is traditional and cooking it in cold water to save both time and energy.
I loved that McGee reached out to 2 doyennes of Italian cooking and asked what they thought of this new method. Both were willing to give it a try. Lidia concluded that you could get away with less water, but that it was still essential to add the pasta to boiling water, so the texture wouldn’t suffer. Marcella felt that the constant stirring that was required was far too troublesome to change her usual way of cooking pasta.
I often cook pasta in less water than is traditional - not because I’m trying to be a rebel or even lessen my carbon footprint, but because I’ve already used my pasta pot for something else. I’ve noticed everything that McGee talks about. It DOES take more stirring at the beginning to be sure that the pasta doesn’t stick and you ARE left with thick, sludgy water at the end, which is fabulous for adding to your pasta sauce.
The one thing I have NEVER done before is to add the pasta to COLD water, which is at the heart of McGee’s new method. THAT is revolutionary. I’m so sorry that brown rice is on the menu tonight, but I absolutely will give this a try the next time I cook pasta.