Pasta is a universal comfort food. It is easy to get your hands on and perfect to stock up on for when a pasta craving hits, or when you need an easy dinner to cook.
There is such a stigma on how you should cook pasta, with boiling water until it is al dente, and a little olive oil to stop it sticking together. While this does result in really good pasta, it isn’t the only way to cook pasta.
Steaming pasta? Let’s narrow it down to spaghetti.
Can you cook spaghetti by steaming it? The answer is yes. Steaming spaghetti is really easy, and the pasta is just as delicious as what it would be if boiled. However, your results will be much better if you use fresh pasta.
Fresh pasta is not as hard or dried out as normal pasta, and will not need to absorb as much water.
Read on to find out the best methods of steaming pasta. From spaghetti to lasagna sheets, we got you covered! Let’s dive in!
Steaming spaghetti really is not complicated at all, but you need to use fresh spaghetti to get the best results. If you had to use dry spaghetti, you would have a lumpy and gluey mess.
Here is how to cook spaghetti using a steamer:
What You Need:
- Fresh spaghetti
- Olive oil
- Layout your fresh pasta in the steamer pan. Make sure to lay the spaghetti out flat and try to spread it out as much as possible.
- Add as much water as recommended for your steamer, but then a little extra to cover the pasta.
- Close the steamer lid and leave the spaghetti to steam for seven minutes.
- Remove the lid from the steamer and then stir the pasta, returning the lid once done.
- Steam the spaghetti for another seven minutes.
- Remove the spaghetti from the steamer into a deep bowl.
- Drizzle some olive oil over the pasta and strain it through a colander to get rid of any excess liquid. After steaming for this amount of time, the pasta should be al dente. If you want the pasta to be softer, you can steam it for two minutes longer.
Steaming Dried Pasta in a Pasta Steamer
Pasta steamers are slightly different from traditional steamers. They offer a convenient way to cook pasta, especially when you are cooking a large amount of pasta.
However, the pasta steamer does not necessarily steam the pasta but is instead a basket that holds the pasta when it is submerged in a pot of boiling water. The basket makes it easy to drain the noodles once cooked.
Pasta steamers can be used for both fresh and dried pasta, and really do make cooking pasta a breeze!
What You Need:
- Dried pasta
- Pasta steamer
- Fill the pot of the pasta steamer with enough water to cover just below two inches from the top. This allows you to submerge the pasta in the basket to prevent the water from spilling over the top.
- Add a pinch of salt to the water, the salt helps the pasta cook evenly and gives it some slight seasoning.
- Bring the water in the pot to a boil.
- Place the pasta in the steamer basket, and place the steamer basket into the pot of boiling water. The steamer basket handles allow you to place and remove the pot in the water without burning your fingers.
- Leave the pasta to cook until done. Dried pasta should take around eight to twelve minutes to cook, with fresh pasta taking slightly shorter to cook through.
- Remove the pasta from the water using the handles on the basket.
- The pasta water will drain through the basket, removing any excess water.
Serve the pasta hot.
Steaming Lasagna Sheets
Making lasagna is gifting yourself one of the most wholesome comfort foods around there. However, handling lasagna sheets can be tricky! When cooking lasagna sheets before placing them into the sauce, you might be stuck clutching onto hot pasta sheets that end up tearing or sticking together.
A helpful trick to avoid this happening is to avoid boiling the lasagna sheets and instead of steaming them. Here is how:
- Place your lasagna pasta in a flat lasagna pan, or any other deep pan that will be able to fit the sheets.
- Pour hot water from the tap over the lasagna sheets, making sure that all of the lasagna sheets are submerged underwater. Make sure that the water is as hot as it can be, as warm water will not soften the pasta enough. Use a fork or spoon to move the sheets around to make sure that all of them are completely submerged.
- Cover the dish with the hot water and pasta with a lid, a shallow pan or some aluminum foil to lock in the steam and heat.
- Leave the lasagna sheets to soak while covered for 20 to 25 minutes. This gives them enough time to steam through and cook all the way through. After this amount of time, the lasagna sheets will be pliable and ready to be placed with the sauce.
- The water will cool down during this period, so there is no chance that you will burn your hands when removing the pasta sheets.
Reheating Pasta By Steaming
Reheating leftover pasta can be a huge disaster if not done properly. If heated in the microwave, pasta can either be mushy, dry or burned or all of the above.
Most methods of reheating pasta involve the pasta losing too much moisture, which just ruins it completely.
It would make sense then that the best way to reheat pasta, without overcooking it, would be to give just enough moisture to stay soft, but not too much to become mushy.
The best way to reheat pasta then is to steam it. The pasta will not be submerged in water, but it also won’t be deprived of all its moisture. Here is a quick and easy way to heat up leftover pasta, even if it is already in a sauce or in a baked casserole.
- Place the leftover pasta in a small heat-proof dish that will fit into the steamer pan of the steamer you want to use. If you do not have a suitable heat-proof dish, you can simply make a temporary one using aluminum foil.
- Add around 2 inches of water to your pan, but make sure that it does not touch the steamer insert.
- Place the heat-proof dish with the pasta into the steamer insert, cover with the lid and bring the below water to a boil whilst on medium heat.
- Keep the pasta steaming until it is loose and saucy if there is any sauce. This should take around 10 minutes. If the pasta is in a thick sauce, it might need to be stirred once or twice to allow it to heat through evenly.
- Remove your pasta dish from the steamer and give it one more stir. You might want to add a splash of olive oil to plain pasta to give it a little extra life.
Can You Cook Raw Pasta in a Sauce?
You can cook raw pasta in a sauce such as a tomato sauce. You will need to thin out the tomato sauce with some water, bring it to a boil and add in dry spaghetti.
It will need to cook for around 15 minutes to cook through, and you will need to stir the pasta and sauce regularly to stop the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
However, this method obviously won’t work with steaming pasta, as the sauce will seep through the holes of the steamer and fall into the boiling water in the bottom pan.
Should I Cook the Pasta Before Baking It?
It is a good idea to cook the pasta before placing it in a sauce or dish to be baked. The best way to do this would be to steam the pasta before, as there is less chance of it overcooking and becoming soggy.
You can also choose to place the pasta in hot water, then cover it with a lid. As the hot water steams and cooks the pasta slightly, the water will cool down eventually which makes handling the pasta once it is cooked much easier.
This will take around 20 minutes, so be sure to factor this into your cooking time.
While it might not seem like the most natural way to cook pasta, steaming pasta can yield some great results. You will have better control over how firm or tender your pasta is, and it is quite a quick solution to cooking pasta as well.
You can either steam pasta using your multi-use steamer at home, or by purchasing a pasta steamer insert. Both work slightly differently but steam the pasta to perfection. Take a break from mushy, soggy pasta, and instead steam your pasta for some of the best results possible!