• Before draining the cooked pasta, be sure to save some of the cooking water to smooth out the sauce. • Pasta is best freshly cooked, but it can be prepared a few hours...

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• Before draining the cooked pasta, be sure to save some of the cooking water to smooth out the sauce.

• Pasta is best freshly cooked, but it can be prepared a few hours before your dinner guests arrive. Toss the cooked pasta with just a little plain olive oil, cover and set aside at room temperature for up to two hours. For longer storage, keep in the refrigerator. Reheat by transferring the pasta to a metal colander and setting it into boiling water a few minutes, just until warmed through. Drain and toss with the sauce and some of the reserved cooking water.

• Precooked or leftover sauce can be reheated in a microwave. For a single serving just spoon the amount needed onto a microwave-safe plate, cover loosely with wax paper and microwave on high about a minute. For larger quantities, put into the top of a double boiler over simmering water until heated through.

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• Casseroles such as lasagna freeze well before cooking. Cover with plastic wrap, then again with aluminum foil and freeze up to 2 months. Remove plastic, replace foil, and cook from the frozen state in a 350-degree oven for about 1¾ hours. Remove foil during last 30 minutes of cooking. A pasta casserole that’s been refrigerated overnight should have an additional 15 to 20 minutes added to the baking time.

Sources: “Cook’s Illustrated Italian Classics”; “Bugialli on Pasta” by Giuliano Bugialli; www.ronzoni.com; www.barilla.com.


— Compiled by CeCe Sullivan, Seattle Times home economist