Steaming can be a great way of cooking foods to ensure they withhold their nutrients, as well as their delicious taste and texture.
When it comes to pasta, however, most of us generally boil it in salty water with a drop of olive oil until it’s “al dente” (still firm when bitten). But can you steam pasta?
So, for those who may have received a fancy new steamer machine for Christmas and want to see just how versatile it is, the good news is, you can indeed steam pasta. This goes for both fresh and dried pasta.
However, it is worth noting that dried pasta will take longer, due to its hard texture, and the end results are often somewhat on the gooey, messy side.
So, when steaming pasta, your best bet is to use fresh pasta for the most delicious (and aesthetically-appealing) results.
Can You Steam Pasta Without a Machine?
Absolutely. You can buy specially-made steaming pans that go on your hob. If you don’t have access to either, however, you can opt for the DIY method of using a large pan with a colander or sieve, and a lid that covers both (tightly fitted tin foil will work fine).
Just fill your large pan with water, making sure it doesn’t touch the sieve and bring to the boil, then place your pasta inside until it is cooked. This is the “Bain-Marie method”.
Always make sure your food is thoroughly heated before consuming.
How to Steam Pasta (Without a Machine)
For this method, you’ll need a steamer pan set.
- Fill up the lower pan with water to about 2 inches from the top. Avoid overfilling it, as your steamer basket will cause your pan to overflow. Pop in some salt and olive oil (oil will help stop your pasta from sticking together while steaming, and your salt is for seasoning and even cooking).
- Bring your water to the boil.
- Put your pasta into the steamer basket and place it over the pan of boiling water. Keep it at this temperature.
- Steam your pasta until cooked (be mindful that fresh pasta will of course take much less time than dried).
- Run your pasta under cold water to stop it from overcooking. This will also prevent it from sticking together if you decide to give the olive oil a miss.
Can You Steam Lasagne Sheets?
Making lasagne can be a faffy affair, and the sheets are to blame for that. They’re notorious for tearing, sticking together, and can often still be hard, even after cooking (although there are ways to avoid this).
One way to prevent turning your lasagne dreams into a nightmare is to steam the sheets beforehand.
How to do this:
- Place your sheets into a flat, deep pan that is big/wide enough to fit the sheets.
- Pour hot water over the sheets, so that they are submerged. Make sure the water is hot, as opposed to warm. Warm water will not soften the pasta enough.
- Use a utensil to gently move the sheets around to ensure they’re completely saturated.
- Cover the pan with a lid/shallow pan, or tin foil, to lock in the steam.
- Leave the covered sheets to soak for 20 to 25 minutes.
So, the answer to the question “can you steam pasta” is a hard yes, but with a resonant “but”.
Steaming can be an ideal solution for cooking fresh pasta, but it isn’t the best solution for dried pasta. For that, we recommend sticking to the traditional boiling method.
If you’re planning on making a delicious lasagne tonight, you can use your steamer pan set to help soften the sheets to prevent them from hardening or sticking together.
Steamers are the gift that keeps on giving!
Clara is a freelance writer and former chef. Though she may have hung up her apron, her love of food and cooking is still going strong! When she’s not whipping up a verbal storm, she’ll be in her kitchen sipping wine and whipping up a culinary storm.