Bonn (dpa/tmn) – Do you love pasta? And as soon as thin spaghetti, wide ribbon noodles, thick tube noodles, or silly farfalle are cooked, do you dump the water? This is a pity.
Because pasta water has unexpected qualities. In the kitchen, it can be used for creamy sauces and soups, purees and pizza dough, and even helps wash dirty dishes.
If the noodles are boiled in plenty of water, the dough pieces release starch and, in the case of whole-grain products, even small amounts of minerals and vitamins into the slightly salty water.
Perfect for a second use. The reason is clear to Harald Seitz, nutritionist at the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE): Pasta water is a good binder due to the starch it contains, for example for sauces.
Pasta water makes sauces thicker and purées creamier
So if Seitz were to sauté onions and tomatoes for Spaghetti Napoli, he would add the pasta water to deglaze. So he doesn’t burn anything, the sauce would be creamier and it would stick well to the noodles. Pestos and sauces would also be creamier with a dash of pasta water and no need to salt them anymore.
This also applies to purees made from potatoes, vegetables or legumes. In soups and stews, you can replace a small part of the vegetable broth with pasta water, says Seitz. This makes them thicker.
Bread and pizza dough can also benefit: if you replace some of the liquid with pasta water, the dough comes together better and becomes nice and airy.
If you also use the pasta water to steam cook, you save energy and water. Just hang the vegetables or fish in a colander over the boiling pasta water and you’ll save yourself a step. The steam rises and ensures that the food cooks gently.
Use immediately after cooking or freezing
It is ideal if you use the pasta water directly during or after cooking. According to Seitz, you can also store it: You can fill it in a clean mason jar and store it in the fridge for a few days. An alternative is to freeze it in ice cube trays. Don’t be surprised: when it cools down, it takes on a jelly-like consistency.
Hot pasta water can also help after cooking, when washing dishes. If dirty dishes are soaked before washing, the starch it contains dissolves even the most stubborn dirt, according to the BZfE expert.
Federal Center for Nutrition on Pasta Water