Nigella's Money-Saving Pasta Hack Proves We've All Been Doing It Wrong

It saves time and effort, too.
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First, came the genius trick Mary Berry uses to cheat her lasagne’s usually-fiddly white sauce. And now, Nigella Lawson has come in with a time-saving, budget-friendly pasta hack, too ― and I’ll never cook my conchiglie the same way again.

It’s especially useful if you’re cooking for a lot of people and don’t want to hover around a bubbling stove ― it also “reduces the risk of overcooking,” she says.

The method is sometimes known as “passive cooking” but Nigella calls it the “Vincenzo Agnesi method” on her site.

It involves switching the hob off mid-cooking (yes, I’m serious), saving time, money, and effort.

How does Nigella’s Vincenzo Agnesi pasta-cooking method work?

“Bring your water to the boil, add salt, then tip in the pasta, stirring well to make sure it’s all in and not clumped together,” she begins. So far, so normal, right?

Then, once the water is bubbling again, the magic happens.

“Let the pasta cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat, cover the pan with a clean, thin tea towel (not a waffle-textured one) and clamp on a tight-fitting lid,” Nigella suggests.

This traps in the steam and heat, which continues to cook the grains ― a bit like couscous.

“Let the pasta stand like this for as long as the packet tells you to cook it normally,” Nigella adds. “When the time is up, drain the pasta, remembering to remove a small cupful of cooking water before doing so.”


Yep! It seems like she’s not alone ― Barilla, the pasta company, shared a post on their site about the method.

“Passive cooking is a technique that has been around since the mid-19th century,” they revealed. “It is an alternative method of cooking pasta that saves energy and reduces CO₂e emissions by up to 80% [compared to traditional cooking method, water boiling phase excluded].“

They also added that not all pasta shapes respond to the method the same way ― some shapes, like tortiglioni, will follow the packet times after the hob’s been switched off, but others, like spaghetti, should have a minute shaved off they cook time once submerged in the salty jacuzzi.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely trying this method tonight...