Reusing water never tasted so good. Until recently, I’d pour the spent pasta water on thirsty plants. The starchy salty water is excellent in pasta sauces, it thins the sauce, adds flavor and salt. Reusing the pasta water in sauces is common practice in Italy.The pasta water adds a rich, buttery flavor to the sauce. You will find yourself wiping the plate clean.
In addition to reusing the pasta water, I save water when I cook pasta by using less than half the water typically recommended on recipes. In the Blue Green Book the author recommends using 1 and 1/2 quarts of water to boil a pound of pasta. I found 2 quarts (8 cups) of water to work well for a pound of pasta. Besides saving water, using less water to boil pasta concentrates the flavor. Be sure to add 1 tablespoon of salt to season the pasta for every 2 quarts water.
I have included my pasta sauce recipe that is simple, delicious and conserves water. Enjoy.
Simple Tomato, Garlic, Basil Sauce with Pasta Water
2 tablespoons ‘dry farmed’ olive oil *
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 pounds organic** tomatoes chopped into eights
1-2 ladles salted pasta water
1 bunch fresh basil, stemmed
*Dry farmed olive oil means that the olives are sourced from olive trees that use only green water (rain water) for irrigation. How do you know if olive oil is dry farmed? Ask.
**When available, I choose organic or pesticide-free vegetables. This action minimizes pesticide and synthetic fertilizer runoff into water systems. Ask farmers how they utilize rain water for irrigation and support those who implement water sustainable practices.
Sauté the garlic until it begins to brown in the olive oil.
Add tomatoes and sauté until soft.
Ladle 1-2 scoops pasta water to thin and season the pasta sauce. Simmer the sauce to allow for the flavors to marry. (Keep the extra water in the refrigerator to add to leftover pasta sauce. The sauce is even tastier the next day.)
Turn the flame to low and add basil. Keep flame on just long enough for the basil to wilt about 2 minutes.
To serve, drape the sauce over your favorite pasta. Sprinkle drops of parmesan.