Cook Pasta With Less Water and Less Energy

Cook Pasta With Less Water and Less Energy

Amber Byfield
Mar 3, 2009

03_03_09_pasta.jpgPasta is a pantry staple in most homes, in some way, shape, or form; we find ourselves eating it probably twice a week, whether as a main dish, stirred into some soup, or cold in a noodle salad.

There's one thing about pasta: traditional Italian recipes say to use six quarts--an entire stock pot-full--of water to make one meal of pasta. Sometimes we remember to save the pasta water and toss it outside on the plants, or use some in the sauce...but more often than not, it goes down the drain while we're straining the noodles.

One curious cook for the New York Times, though, invites us to use a third of that water, which, in turn, saves power. Whet your appetite? Read on to find out more about his experiment.

In this NYT column, Harold McGee writes that yes--it's possible to make delicious pasta with much less water and energy. By his calculations, if Americans cooked the billion pounds of pasta they eat each year with this less-water method, we'd save the equivalent of $10 million or $20 milllion in oil.

McGee tries a couple of methods, including starting the pasta in cold water, and starting it in boiling. He even clears his experiment with renowned Italian master cooks Lidia Bastianich and Marcella Hazan. Personally, if Lidia gives it the green light, we're all ears.

Though the method creates more work--constant stirring and a little more attention than using a whole pot of water--we think the end result is still worth a try.

Photo by Josee Holland via

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