This is part 5 in a new series: College Cooking Crash Course. This series is written by Kyle, a student at Princeton University, and is designed for college students looking to learn the basics of making healthy, cost-effective, and delicious meals. Today, Kyle will be discussing one of the go-to meals for college student – pasta! – and will be showing you how to make Pasta Carbonara.
One of the first things any college student should learn how to make is a good pasta. Pasta is delightfully easy-to-make, filling, and very versatile. It requires little work and time to cook, but always makes for a hearty and delicious meal.
Plus, you can get creative with pasta – there’s so much more to pasta than just spaghetti and some canned marinara sauce. Not only does pasta come in many different shapes and sizes (bowties are my personal favorite), but there are also hundreds of different sauces you can eat your pasta with. The possibilities are actually endless. If it lives in your fridge, you can probably add it to your pasta, no kidding. Throw some leftover vegetables, tuna, and garlic in with some crushed tomatoes and all of the sudden you’ve got yourself a nutritious, tasty pasta sauce. You can even reuse that same sauce for other dishes besides pasta! For example, throw that sauce on a few grilled chicken breasts and you’ve got a beautifully spruced-up dinner.
Best of all, pasta is cheap. A whole box of pasta will make more than enough for 4-5 people, and will set you back less than $2! It’s also easily reusable. You can cook a big pot of pasta at the beginning of the week, throw it in the fridge, and then re-use it throughout the week for lunch and dinner. Or you can store it in the freezer for a while, and that pasta will still be good to reheat and eat a month later.
Pasta is especially great for any time you’re hosting a bunch of people over at your place, since you can always make it well ahead of time. And even if you’re preparing dinner on short notice, you can easily whip up a batch of pasta within 20-30 minutes max.
So, now that I’ve hopefully demonstrated just how awesome pasta is, here are a few quick tips on how to make the perfect pasta:
1. Salt your pasta water. Pasta acts like a sponge, and absorbs whatever it comes into contact with while it cooks. Therefore, adding just a pinch of salt to your water during the cooking process will go a long way in seasoning your pasta and making it taste so much better.
2. Cook your pasta by taste, not by the instructions on the box. Oftentimes, the cooking times listed on the box won’t be super accurate. So, while you should use the suggested cooking times as a guide, make sure you taste your pasta as it cooks in order to know when it’s ready. Usually, you’ll want your pasta to be firm but tender.
3. Save a cup of pasta water. While your pasta cooks, reserve some of the pasta water. Then add it to your pasta as you toss it with your sauce. This will help to loosen up your sauce and make your pasta taste that much better.
One of my favorite pastas to make is Pasta Carbonara. It’s simple to make, but tastes so good. What could be better than a nice, creamy pasta topped with crispy bacon? (Most recipes will call for pancetta, but for those on a budget, regular ol’ bacon works just fine.) So check out the recipe below, try it out, and let me know what you think in the comments below!
One of my favorite pastas to make.
- 1/2 lb thick-sliced bacon (diced)
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup basil (chopped)