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How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian

May 15th  •  Posted in Recipe

How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian

With the whole Italy theme going on recently on the blog, and all the pictures and the talking about food, it felt very appropriate to finally share some pasta recipes on this blog! It’s very surprising to think I never really posted one so far – as you see pasta recipes from each and every blogger everyday, and I’m Italian, so you know…

I guess it’s due to the fact I always stick to traditions and never venture into new recipes when it comes to pasta. But that’s the way we truly like our “primi piatti”, you rarely will see us trying out something new. Yet, I’ve found myself writing down a whole article about how to serve your pasta like a true Italian and realized how many things I do know on the subject and how deeply passionate I am about it.

I guess it must be due to genetic or something, but I found myself surprised to feel so passionate about the topic as I’ve always thought pasta is not the most exciting food to discuss about! It made me realize people love pasta and they love Italy mainly because of pasta… so today’s post is all about pasta basics, how we like to serve our main dishes and simple tips from your newly self-discovered pasta expert Italian blogger, me.

Here are two of my favourite ways to cook pasta like an Italian, two sauce recipes and some pasta basics that are appropriate for your everyday’s lunch or even a fancy Italy themed dinner!

How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian
How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian
How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian
How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian

Cacio e pepe

“Cacio e Pepe” is a traditional Roman recipe (yes, I was totally inspired by my recent trip to Rome for this one!) that features a delicious and savoury cream made with Pecorino Romano and pepper. With this one go for spaghetti or fettuccine and make sure your pasta is truly al dente! Do not believe those who suggest to replace pecorino with Parmesan – you won’t get the same flavour and with pasta the rule is always to stick to traditions!

Ingredients (serves 2):

– 160g spaghetti or fettuccine
– A knob of butter
– 3/4 handfuls of freshly grated Pecorino Romano
– Freshly minced black pepper
– A drizzle of olive oil


01 :: In the meanwhile your pasta is cooking, grate the cheese and mince or smash the black pepper and set aside.

02 ::  Place a splash of olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the black pepper. Place on a low heat to allow the pepper to inject flavour in the oil. Make sure you don’t burn or fry your oil.

02 :: Save a small bowl of pasta water before draining your pasta and placing it in the saucepan. Your pasta should be truly al dente so cook it for a couple of minute less than suggested.

03 :: Add a knob of butter to the pasta and stir well until melted. Then add the pecorino a handful per time, and each time you add some, add a heaping tablespoon of pasta water (or more if needed). Stir well and quickly to create a nice soft cream.

04 :: Keep adding the cheese and water until you’re left with a creamy sauce. If needed put your saucepan on a low heat to let some of the water evaporate. Then transfer your spaghetti in two plates and top with some more black pepper to taste!

How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian
How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian
How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian
How To Cook Pasta Like An Italian

Salmon + Cream

Unlike popular belief, we use cream in our pasta only in a few occasions, so do not listen to anyone saying a true tomato sauce must be made with an addition of cream! But this is one of those exceptions: cream + smoked salmon pasta is a personal favourite, so simple and quick to make but extremely fancy and flavourful to the taste!

Ingredients (serves 2):

– 160g farfalle or fusilli
– 250g cream
– 60g smoked salmon, cubed
– Salt and pepper to taste
– A drizzle of olive oil


01 :: While your pasta is cooking, place a drizzle of olive oil in a small saucepan with the cubed smoked salmon and a pinch of salt. Place on a very low heat and allow the salmon to slightly cook on the borders.

02 :: Add the cream to the saucepan all at once and stir with a wooden spoon. Allow the heat to melt the cream down and then add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water to add creaminess and lightness to your sauce.

03 :: Drain your pasta and place it in the saucepan with the sauce, stir and leave on the heat for a few seconds. Then transfer pasta into two plates and serve with a pich of black pepper on top and *no* Parmesan (never a good idea when fish is involved!).

Check out How to Serve Pasta Like an Italian

by Giada Correale at Mode

Pasta basics:

– As for quantity the perfect amount is 80g for each adult. It makes for the perfect pasta plate (not too large nor too small) and will leave you with no leftovers – I don’t know about you but I like my pasta to be freshly made each time.

– Saving a small bowl of pasta water is always a good idea to diluite your pesto or sauce and add flavour and reach the perfect consistency and creaminess.

– Never overcook the sauce or it will start creating lumps or being too thick: you don’t want your pasta to be doughy.

– And don’t ever overcook your pasta: I find the perfect cooking time is usually a couple of minutes more than what suggested on the packaging, unless you need to finish the cooking in the sauce, then you’ll have to remove it from the water a couple of minutes earlier.

– How to dose salt for the pasta water? Usually less than a tablespoon for a medium pot will work!


These are my top tips for cooking and serving pasta like an Italian!
Make sure you check out my article on Mode for more tips and ideas.
And let me know: how do you usually cook and serve your pasta? x

  • Wellwell Girl

    i have to save this post!! x
    jess x |

    • Super happy you liked it! 🙂 x

  • Love pasta so this is such a helpful post! x

    • Glad you found it helpful Millie! x

  • I’m Italian and this is probably the only post I read about cooking pasta that is true!
    Some bloggers suggest how to cook pasta and make pizza in a totally wrong way, so… well done!

    • I just realized you’re Italian! 🙂

      • That’s exactly the reason I wanted to share this post! Ah! Hope it will also help some non-Italian readers out 😉 x

  • Cacio e pepe is easily one of my favourite pasta dishes ever! I love how enthusiastic Italians are about pasta – this weekend, my boyfriend and I had some friends to stay and I made the mistake of asking these three Italians what their favourite pasta shape is and which sauce is the best to go with it. We spent so long just discussing shapes, we never made it onto the sauce!! xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Food, Travel, Italy

    • Oh I totally get where you’re coming from! There’s a whole culture about pasta shapes and why they go with a certain sauce, I could spend hours talking about it! 🙂 x

  • As an Italian, I want to say ‘Brava!’ I never time my pasta while it’s boiling, and I rely on the taste and texture of pasta to determine it’s readiness. My partner, not Italian, takes the time on the packaging quite literally, and while my housemate is the same, he also never stirs the pasta and the pot he uses is very tiny so most of them end up sticking to the bottom. It horrifies me. Seriously.

    One of my favourite sauces to use are roasted red peppers and goat cheese, it is such a dream~ Pecorino Romano is impossible to get vegetarian, so I have to settle for Parmesan 🙁

    Stephii Mattea xx

    • Thank you! I know, I never really time my pasta as well – I believe it’s easy to see when it’s at the perfect cooking point, but I guess it’s not like that for everyone! Oh and pasta stuck to the bottom of the pot always makes me cringe! x

  • SO excited to give this a try, now I’ve got the professional Italian method all laid out in front of me! x

    Martha Jane |

    • Glad you enjoyed Martha! Ah, it’s not professional but surely Italian 😉 xx

  • Ron

    We must try these recipes. I haven’t been eating pasta all that much lately but will try to cook this as soon as possible. It looks delicious! Gotta find that pecorino cheese first. There should be some at my local family owned Italian store.

  • Natalie O’Leary

    Brilliant! I am going to try the CACIO E PEPE tonight, but with gluten free spaghetti!
    Thanks a lot 🙂

    Made In China

  • Those recipes are perfect x

  • Alfredo Ciano

    Un Post Delizioso Cara Giada , a Presto !!!

  • Lovely Pasta:) This looks so delicious .