How To Finish Pasta

This post is blatantly redoing what Jenni did over at Pastry Methods and Techniques a couple of weeks ago. But it was such a good tip that I wanted to share it here for anyone who’s not already subscribed to her blog. (And if you’re not, go do it.)

This is how Italian restaurants — and Italian grandmothers — finish their pasta dishes. It’s not just a scoop of gravy plopped down over the noodles, it sticks to them. Do this and you won’t have that little red puddle left after you’re done eating.


1 pound dry pasta (I’m using cheese tortellini here)
1 quart homemade pasta sauce
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream and/or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pasta water
1 cup grated hard cheese, like Parmesan or Pecorino Romano


Go check Jenni’s site for the explanation of how you’re doing an emulsion. Or just keep reading for the instructions.

While you’re cooking the pasta, heat the sauce in a large skillet. Something big enough to hold all the sauce and all the pasta with room to spare. Just before the pasta is done cooking, scoop out a half-cup of the water it is cooking in. Add it to the sauce.

Add the cream and/or olive oil. (You could do butter, too. Any liquid fat will work.)

Strain the pasta but don’t rinse it and add it to the sauce.

Stir. The color of the pasta will change. You might think to yourself, “Hey, that’s the color it usually is at the restaurant. So that’s what’s different.”

Add the grated cheese.

Stir again.

Serve with more grated cheese on top.

And that’s it.

Don’t thank me. Thank Jenni.