Tips for cooking pasta ahead of time?

posted 1 year ago in Food
Post # 2
Member
973 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

Ide cook it batches al dente, rinse througrougly in cold water and store in a place where it won’t dry out. Air locked should be fine

Post # 3
Member
973 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

Ide make the sauce too so I only have a assemble in the morning

Post # 4
Member
7305 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

Putting olive oil in the water when you cook the pasta keeps it from sticking together. Rinse well in cold water to shock it, and then toss in a tiny bit of olive oil again. 

Post # 5
Member
273 posts
Helper bee

I have to strongly disagree with above post- never put olive oil in the water when you boil!  I am from an off the boat Italian family with decades of past experience and always cringe when I see/hear his.  The oil just lays on top of the water- it does nothing to coat the pasta to prevent sticking.  Pasta is made not to stick together as long as you are using a big enough pot and enough water.  If your noodles are sticking, that is the problem.  If anything, it will make your pasta slimy, and then mushy the next day when you go to reheat.  

Cook your noodles just shy of al dente- like you would if you were making manicotti or stuffed shells.  When you add the sauce and reheat the next day, the pasta continue to cook a just a bit and you won’t be left with mushy noodles!

Post # 6
Member
1314 posts
Bumble bee

I would reheat the sauce alone first before mixing in the pasta.  Once sauce is heated through then stir in pasta & return to oven for another few minutes.  That should help the pasta to not over cook during reheating. 

Post # 7
Member
4697 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

If you put the pasta in airtight/watertight ziplocked bags after you cook it (and cool it somewhat), you can dip the bags of pasta (still closed) in boiling water for 30 secs to 1 minute and it will heat it up.

Defintely add a little olive oil to the cooked pasta – it will keep it from clumping and sticking. Keep it light though.

Post # 8
Member
871 posts
Busy bee

Have you considered lasagnas? I’ve made lasagnas completely the day before and then just popped them in the oven the next day. 

If you prefer not to do lasagna, I second the suggestion to cook to al dente, rinse with cold water then mix with sauce the next day. 

View original reply
mrs2b70 :  lol funny story- my husband is Italian and when we were dating and he came over for dinner one night, he came into the kitchen to help me. I was prepping salad ingredients and saw him pour the water out of the pot. I asked him what he was doing and he said I’d accidentally spilled some oil from the salad dressing and it was floating on the water. The look he gave me when I told himi I’d put it in on purpose was priceless. (and no I don’t do this anymore 😀 ) 

Post # 9
Member
4706 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

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w100116 :  have you considered making something Italians call pasta al forno? This is usually a dish a lot Italian people will make for a party where you have time constraints and can’t cook  pasta fresh just before serving. It’s a dish you typically make a day ahead and finish off in the oven before serving. Its like lasagna without the extra work involved in making lasagna. 

You basically cook your pasta Al dente. Mix it through with a lot of tomato based sauce. (You usually leave your sauce a bit runnier than you normally would regular pasta) you then add through lots of grated  parmigiano or pecorino cheese as well as mozzarella. Put it all in a quality baking dish and cover it in a layer or baking paper and also a layer of aluminum foil. Store it in your fridge until needed and bake covered in an oven until warmed through and melted. You then take off the foil and baking paper and cook it for a little longer to form a slight bubbly crust on top. 

Trying to  precook a huge catering size batch of pasta and reheating it will turn it into a dried out mess especially if you are not confident or expirienced in doing so. Pasta Al forno is foolproof and you’ll get a better end result. 

*Saying this as person of Italian heritage who is used to cooking for large groups of people.

Just Google pasta Al forno recipes for a better idea of what I’m talking about.

Edited to add: Another good option for mass catering on a time constraint is conchiglie (large shells) stuffed with ricotta and spinach. Again an easy dish to make that tastes delicious and can be made ahead. 

Post # 10
Member
871 posts
Busy bee

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cmsgirl :  Sorry, I think I may have drooled on your post a little when you mentioned pecorino cheese. I’ll fix that…..and I second this idea 🙂 

Post # 11
Member
839 posts
Busy bee

Just a pasta tip – Never, NEVER rinse pasta with water after cooking! The starch on cooked pasta is necessary to help the sauce stick to it. Otherwise you will have naked pasta with runny tomato sauce on your plate. I used to cater and we would cook pasta until before al dente, drain water and add a very small amount of olive oil to keep from sticking. Easy to reheat later. 

I will say, it’s very hard to do pasta/sauce dishes in advance, I agree with PP’s that lasagna or some sort of baked pasta dish (baked ziti, baked ravioli etc) is MUCH easier to make, reheat and serve. 

Post # 12
Member
4706 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

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crustyoldbee :  haha… Sometimes I put too much cheese on my pasta and wonder if I’m eating ‘pasta with cheese’ or ‘cheese with pasta’!!

Post # 13
Member
871 posts
Busy bee

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cmsgirl :  lol I’m not familiar with the term ‘too much cheese’ 😀 

Post # 15
Member
390 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2025 - City, State

I agree that a baked pasta dish would come out much better.  It would also be less work the day of, since you could just pop it in a low oven to reheat during the ceremony.

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