For a lot of us, learning how to cook pasta is one of the first skills an amateur cook might add to their arsenal. I mean, it’s easy enough right? You salt some water, boil it, and then cook your noodles. What’s so tricky about that?
You deserve the best bowl of spaghetti possible. A classic dilemma of what is right and wrong in the world of cooking pasta, whether you should or should not add olive oil to your pasta water sparks heated debates. While it might seem like an innocent splash of oil couldn’t do any harm, your pasta is way better off without it.
Sauce Doesn't Stick to Slippery Pasta
Generally, people will drizzle a bit of olive oil into their pasta water in order to prevent the noodles from sticking together... but that's not the only thing it's going to keep from sticking. What happens is that a layer of oil will form at the top of your pasta water, so when you drain your noodles from the water, the layer of oil will then coat all of your noodles as they’re drained.
Admittedly, this is isn't a huge issue if you plan to dress your noodles in nothing but olive oil anyway, but for something like a Bolognese or simple marinara, it's kind of an issue. This coating of oil will only cause your pasta to become slick and slippery—in turn, making it very difficult for any sauce to cling to the pasta. And what good does that do you? None!
How to Keep Pasta From Sticking to Itself
Really, all you need to do is give your pasta noodles a stir every so often as they cook to prevent major clumping. If the noodles seem a little sticky one you drain them, that's A-OK (ideal, actually); they'll loosen up from one another once they have some sauce to cling to. So the moral of the story—save your olive oil for something else (like building a rich and robust sauce), because it surely does not belong in your pasta water.