September 24, 2014

How to Make Pasta in the Microwave

So, my new stove and I are not the best of friends. The oven's fine, though I'm pretty sure I found a hotspot, but the stove totally frustrates me. It's an electric stove, and not an especially high-end one at that. My whole life, we had gas stoves, so I'm not used to using electric. And it's soooo sloooow. There's this "hot surface" indicator light so you don't accidentally burn yourself while it's cooling off, and that light doesn't even come on until I've had the burner on for at least 30 seconds. It's not so bad when I'm making chicken or something that requires prep, but it's torture when all I'm doing is boiling a pot of water for pasta. I'm Italian fer cryin' out loud, and I've been avoiding making pasta because it just takes too dang long.

Then I realized I could make a single serving pasta in the microwave. Now I'm eating pasta again and all is right with the world.

This isn't really a recipe, since I don't measure, but it's a technique I had to share.
The things you will need will be:

  • A microwave safe bowl (preferably one that is very wide and deep)
  • A microwave safe plate
  • Uncooked pasta, about 1 serving's worth (~2 oz)
  • Water-- enough to cover the pasta
You do not need a Kitchenaid or mums. They are attempting to hide the kitty meds that still managed to get in the frame.
Add the pasta and water to the bowl-- like I said, I never measure. I just pour out what looks like a decent sized serving of pasta and stick it under the faucet. (Just keep in mind that the cooked pasta will expand, so use less pasta than you actually want). The amount of water isn't fussy either: if you add too much, you can drain it off; if you add too little, you can add more while it's cooking.

The reason you want a wide and deep bowl is because the water will boil like nobody's business in the microwave. If your bowl is too small, it will boil over and make a mess. That's where the microwave safe plate comes in-- my bowls are actually the perfect size for this, but on the off chance it does boil over, it's caught on the plate and not all over the microwave.

There are sites that tell you you can do this in a mug. Do not listen to them. It will make a mess and there will be boiling, starchy water everywhere.
Microwave on high for 6-8 minutes. My microwave isn't especially high powered, so I need 8 minutes (and I like my pasta very firm-- you might need to leave it in even longer if you like softer pasta)
Stir every two minutes or so (if the pasta seems too dry, add more water). Test the pasta for doneness at 6 minutes.
Decide how you want to prepare your pasta. My favorite way is with shredded cheese (Mexican blend), salsa, and a pat of butter (about 1/2 tbsp). You could add fresh spinach, artichokes, and shredded swiss for spinach and artichoke pasta; cheddar, shredded or canned chicken, hot sauce, and butter for buffalo chicken pasta; even just mix in some garlic, olive oil, and fresh basil. Whatever your little heart desires.

Please note: a TARDIS does not actually help you make the pasta, but is always recommended.
Now, using pot holders because the bowl will be very hot, remove the bowl from the microwave. There will be a little water left in the bowl-- that's great if you're looking to melt cheese or wilt spinach (though if there's a lot, you may want to drain some out), so leave it in there. Add your mix-ins and stir it up.
Once the mix-ins have been melted/wilted to your heart's content and are well mixed, return the bowl to the microwave for another 30 seconds to 1 minute on high.
And serve! A bowl of fresh pasta has never been so easy and required so little clean up. Now, is it as quick and easy as Easy Mac? No. Easy Mac is specially formulated to be, well, easy. But is it still quick and easy, not to mention much tastier, healthier, and cheaper than Easy Mac? You bet your booty it is.

Just remember to be super careful handling the bowl after cooking, since it will be very hot. You could transfer the pasta to another dish, or you could do it my way and just wrap the bowl in a dish towel. That way you can still have it on your lap to eat while watching the season premiere of Sleepy Hollow (I have three words for you: naked Benjamin Franklin)

I have not tried this method with whole wheat or gluten free varieties, but I dare say it should translate. I'd just suggest using more water, since they tend to absorb more of it, and cooking times may need to be adjusted.
Technique adapted from various internet sources, but mostly from Ella Claire