The dense fog dancing above a boiling cauldron hits the nose. Soaking its way into the nasal passage, it satiates that carb craving. What’s seething below is a thick full-bodied potent serum of sorts and embedded within are the pasta shapes of preference. Cloudy at times, glistening for sure and laden with minerals, the starchy pasta water is a mine of possibilities. Gourmands and celebrity chefs Ramsay and Bourdain have called it “liquid gold.” And not for nothing.
Preserve the starch water as stock. Use it to stir natural goodness into ready-mix soups or as a thickening agent in the pasta-sauce itself. The gooey water lends nutrients and a creamy texture to any preparation. If tossing up mushrooms, corn and a thin slice of meat be your idea of dinner on weekdays, lend the frugal pan some flavor with this stock. Not only does it ensure even cooking all through, it lends that bistro-style moisture to the recipe. Add a dash of pepper and garlic salt, and you have a saucy bite with the bread.
Just in case, you have a set crockpot for soups, throw in fresh cut veggies, seasoning and the stock. Presto!!! Your low-fat but carb rich healthy soup awaits you at meal. Hunger pangs adieu for the night.
For home grown bakers, the pasta water is loaded with fermenting possibilities. The starch acts as a leavening agent and helps the dough rise.
Alternatively, the pasta water can be cooled down and poured into an ice tray. As and when needed, the stock cubes can be added to the recipe. Tucking it away into the deep freeze lends greater shelf life.
Word of caution: If recycling the starchy stock in cooking, be careful not to add salt and oil to the pasta when boiling. If preserving in the fridge, two to three days is advisable. Discard if the water curdles or turns too cloudy.
As a Beauty Aid:
Since selenium, magnesium, kojic acid and folic acid abound in this starch, it makes for a potent natural ingredient to supple up dry skin or rejuvenate damaged hair. Either freeze as cubes for a cold compress on days that need an instant makeover or let the water cool down before folding in a papaya/orange puree to work up a thick face mask. And even better, throw in coffee granules or a fig puree and store in the fridge as our very own DIY exfoliating scrub!!!!!
If dry, damaged and brittle hair is your woe, you will leave us thanking for this tip: simply massage in the warm thickish concentrate and leave in to condition the weak hair strands with organic Vitamin B and Niacin. No need to use chemicals for cosmetic correction. Be sure to rinse out thoroughly with cold water.
Likewise, if fish spa leaves your feet soft try a pasta water pedicure!!! While the Vitamin B-rich wetness softens on your feet, the starchy bit clings on to dead cells asking for a scrub away.
As a handy guy around the house, starch water has been known to stiffen delicate fabric. Bring out those fancy table napkins that can do with a dip to add life into their flimsy square. Of course, add a whiff of your favorite fragrance to the dip before you down in the dainty serviettes.
And just in case, gardening be your call, be sure to use the cooled-down pasta water (diluted, if too thick), to water your plants. The rest, as they say, will be foliage in a truly green way!!!
(PS: Pasta made of durum wheat is preferable over the regular kinds. It comes fortified with the benefits of whole wheat.)
Also Read: Meet the Two Frenchmen of La Maison, Ahmedabad’s Chic New Vegan Café