Reheating Creamy Dairy Pasta – with Success!
Ever wonder why pasta always tastes so fresh and is so perfectly sauced in a restaurant? Pasta is one of those dishes that is really best eaten straight out of the pot, freshly tossed with sauce and served right away. For most who entertain, though, this ideal is a bit challenging to achieve – especially when serving pasta dishes on a Yom Tov like Shavuot. How can we do our cooking in advance without sacrificing the taste or quality?
Knowing some of the tricks and hacks for refreshing pasta well definitely help to prevent dried out, gummy pasta (and your guests will never be the wiser!).
For plain cooked pasta, my secret weapon is always: pasta water. When making pasta in advance, one should rinse the pasta in cool water to remove excess starch that makes the cooked pasta pasty and stuck together. However, it is that same starch that helps the sauce adhere to the pasta and coat it well. If you are making the pasta in advance, save some of that pasta water (you can leave it in a container) and use it to refresh the pasta in a large skillet or pot before serving, tossing it with the pasta and sauce until the pasta is heated through and well coated.
For sauce cooked pasta, while a little pasta water can work too to loosen the congealed sauced pasta in the pan, too much can also water down and thin out the sauce. Adding a more flavorful liquid like stock or cream (if it is a cream-based sauce) will resurrect without diluting. Be careful not to overcook the pasta when reheating, as it can become mushy.
For baked pasta dishes, such as lasagna or macaroni and cheese, these dishes can be assembled one to two days prior and only just baked right before serving. If you want to refresh a fully cooked dish, be sure to reheat it covered to prevent the pasta from drying out in the oven. Reheating on 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes is generally sufficient to rewarm.
**Lasagna Hack: You can also add moisture to the dish by poking several small holes in the top of the lasagna and then pouring a small amount of milk over it prior to reheating. Cover tightly with foil and place in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.
Yes, you may have to wash a pan, but the pasta will be good as new!