At its best, pasta should be al dente. When pasta is al dente, it is cooked through but still firm enough to bite. When pasta becomes overcooked, it takes on a gummy and unpleasant texture. Overcooked pasta also scores higher on the glycemic index than correctly cooked pasta, which means that it has a greater impact on your blood sugar levels. If you accidentally overcook your pasta, you can improve or mask the texture in most cases.
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One method to fix overcooked pasta is to saute it in a pan with olive oil or butter, according to Kat Kinsman of the Kitchen Daily website. Sauteing the pasta will make it more firm and even slightly crisp at the edges. Add the olive oil or butter to the pan and heat it over medium heat. When the olive oil or butter is warm, add the pasta and saute it for three to seven minutes or until the pasta has become more firm but is not burned or hard.
Adding a rich sauce also can mask the gummy texture of overcooked pasta. You can saute the pasta first and then deglaze the pan by adding a cup of white wine and a cup of cream after you remove the pasta. Simmer the wine and cream mix until it forms a rich sauce. Alternately, add a prepared sauce to the pasta and toss it to coat it well. The pasta will still be soft, but it will lose the gummy, slightly slimy finish.
Adding crunchy vegetables or other ingredients that have a firm or crispy texture, such as Asian noodles, can mask the gooey texture of the pasta. Broccoli, firm sauteed bell peppers, lightly cooked zucchini or even crunchy chow mein noodles all blend well with most pastas and go well with most cream sauces as well as tomato-based sauces. Add the vegetables or chow mein noodles after you saute the pasta. Mix the pasta with the ingredients and then add the sauce, if you are using one.
Avoiding Mushy Pasta
Pasta is very easy to overcook, because even 30 seconds too long in the hot water can turn al dente pasta into overcooked pasta. Follow the directions on the package. Different types of pasta cook at different rates. For example, whole grain pastas may need more cooking time than semolina pasta. Test the pasta starting at two minutes before the cooking time indicated on the package. When the pasta is cooked through but still slightly firm, drain it into a colander.