If You Really Have To Break Pasta, Here Is A Trick To Not Making A Mess

It's hard to think of a kitchen staple more versatile and delicious — and not to mention inexpensive — than pasta (via Taste of Home). Dried pasta has come to our rescue more times than we can count, helping to create quick and easy dinners such as lemon spaghetti and cacio e pepe that require no more than 15 minutes and a few additional pantry items. With a shelf life of basically forever (via PureWow) and at least 150 available shapes, says Cookipedia, dried pasta is a pantry must-have, along with olive oil, salt, and vinegar.

As you probably already know, different dried pasta shapes and styles complement different sauces: For example, hollow penne and ziti can trap rich, meaty sauces in each and every bite, while the empty space running the entire length of tubular bucatini is just waiting to be filled up with a loose sauce such as a creamy tomato option (via Food Network). And then there's long strands of spaghetti, fettuccine, and linguine, which take well to a large variety of sauces — and which we're likely to have on hand at all times.

The thing about these long kinds of pasta, however, is that they rarely fit in our pot without having to break them in half first — and when you do so, little shards of pasta fly all over the place (via The Washington Post). If this has happened to you, you'll want to know about this trick to break pasta less messily.

Wrap long pasta in a kitchen towel before snapping it

When long strands of spaghetti or linguine don't fit in our chosen pot without poking out, many of us tend to quickly snap a fistful in half — only to have little pieces of dried pasta shrapnel go flying everywhere. Of course, we've all been there, but this trick suggested by Taste of Home can help. The outlet suggests wrapping the pasta in a clean kitchen towel before bending it to break the strands; the towel will contain any stray pasta bits, and then you can slide everything into your pot of water.

However, you might not want to employ this hack if you've invited an Italian to dinner: According to Slate, in the land of pasta, long strands are meant to be twirled around a fork (sometimes with the use of a spoon in the other hand), and the shorter pieces produced by snapping won't twirl well.

It's even frowned upon in Italy to cut your plated pieces of pasta with a knife, according to More Time to Travel — so you can imagine how grave a sin breaking it would be. So, if you want to cook pasta the Italian way, add your spaghetti to the pot and let the ends stick out (via Real Simple). Then, in about a minute, the bottom parts will soften enough to allow you to stir the rest of the strand into the pot, where they'll all cook evenly and intact.