Store Cooked Pasta And Sauce Separately For Better Textures Later

Sloppy pasta is every Italian Nonna's nightmare. Whether it be linguine or tagliatelle, cooked noodles should be perfectly tender with just a little bite in the background, lending them that characteristically satisfying mouthfeel. However, this ideal texture is tricky to maintain once pasta cools or sits in a sauce for an extended period. One way to combat this issue is to store cooked pasta and sauce separately to guarantee better textures later.

As pasta sits in a sauce, it continues to swell up as it absorbs more liquid. This can turn its perfectly al dente texture into a gummy, squishy consistency. And once pasta loses that telltale bite, it can feel mushy and unappetizing to eat. Although the issue doesn't arise as quickly if you've prepared just enough pasta for a single meal, it does cause problems if you want to make a large portion of pasta to store away for another day. This is when a little forethought comes in — divide some of the plain pasta and the sauce separately into two containers before chilling for later. That way you can combine them further on in the week and put together an uber-quick meal that tastes just as good as the day you made it.

The benefit of storing your pasta separately is that it eliminates that window of opportunity for the noodles to soak up extra liquid while they chill. They retain their textural bite right up until they're incorporated into your sauce and you're ready to eat.

Reheating pasta that's been stored separately from sauce

To reheat your cold, pre-cooked pasta, place it in a colander and lower it into a pan of boiling salted water for about a minute or so. This should be sufficient time for the pasta to heat through to the center. Then lift the colander out of the water and toss the pasta directly into your bubbling pan of reheated sauce. Garnish with some fresh herbs and a touch of Parmesan and you have a delicious meal on your hands that took seconds to assemble and still boasts a scrumptious texture that hits the spot.

What's more? If you employ this technique, there's no reason why you have to limit yourself to a single sauce. Why not make a few different sauces to add some interest to your weekly meal prep? Simply add your cooked pasta to a new sauce for a different flavor combination every evening. In fact, you don't even have to heat the noodles if you're planning on making a cold pasta salad. Stir your pasta shapes through a chilled tomato sauce, a lemony vinaigrette, or a rich mayo-based dressing to make a quick lunch or an easy side to serve with a barbecue dinner.