the internal summary:
- Most people automatically add olive oil to boiling pasta water, but they don’t really know why.
- adding olive oil to boiling pasta water actually prevents the water from boiling, it is not intended to prevent the noodles from sticking together.
- The only time you should use olive oil is when you’re making meatier pasta like rigatoni.
Most cooks think they prevent noodles from sticking when they add olive oil to boiling pasta water.
michael easton, chef and owner of il corvo pasta in seattle, which has a retail studio that designs pasta, says otherwise.
according to easton, olive oil sits on top of boiling water and breaks the surface tension, thus preventing the water from foaming and boiling over the pot.
however, it also says that the only time the pasta water is likely to overflow is when you’re cooking hearty noodles which have a cook time of around 13 minutes.
So, unless you’re cooking heavier noodles with more texture (think rigatoni, not spaghetti), there’s really no need to add olive oil to the water.
In addition, Easton notes that higher quality noodles won’t stick in the first place. good quality noodles will have enough protein and gluten to prevent sticking.
If you’re concerned about the noodles sticking together after boiling (if you don’t add the sauce right away), easton suggests tossing the cooked noodles with butter.
“the butter, rather than olive oil at that point, becomes part of the sauce and helps the sauce stick to the noodles. while the olive oil, at that point, will coat the noodles and will not allow them to accept the sauce.it will prevent the sauce from sticking to the noodles.”
so there you have it: save your olive oil for another dish.