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Green Pasta

February 25, 2009
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By Kevin Roe of Food Junta

…and not the kind you make with spinach.

On the venerable New York Times Dining page this week, Harold McGee, kitchen science guru extraordinaire, reconsiders the need to boil pasta in a bathtub’s worth of water. Result: The practice isn’t exactly hokum, but there’s no good reason that an environmentally conscious home cook shouldn’t cook his pasta in far less water than is generally considered necessary.

I actually did this experiment myself two weeks ago. Why? Because I am clairvoyant, but also because I was hungry and drunk, because it was late, and because  my pasta pot was dirty. (I hear Rutherford’s Gold Foil experiment began the same way.) I cooked a pound of pasta in probably about a quart and a half of water, and I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between it and pasta cooked as the box directs. Yes, yes, I was inebriated, but I swear that my tastebuds were in good shape. This was perfectly good pasta.

Now, it was also dried pasta from Trader Joe’s. If you’ve made fresh squid ink pasta to serve with your grandmother’s favorite truffle butter sauce to someone with whom you wish to sleep, I say go the extra mile and use the full 6 quarts of water prescribed.

But, accepting that (1) the environment will be saved by the confluence of large government intervention and individual action (unplug your phone chargers when not in use, goddam it) and (2) day-to-day home cooking doesn’t require (or, I would argue, merit) absolute perfection, I’m going to start using less water for my pasta.

Who’s with me?

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