Pasta on the Boat

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2014 • all rights reserved

Total win -- al dente pasta with less water, less propane or other fuel, and less heat and steam in the boat!

If you’re like me, pasta is a staple.  But I always felt guilty about how much water I used in cooking it and hated how much heat — and steam! — it put into the boat on a hot day.  I always used less water than recommended and covered the pan, but always felt that there had to be a more boat-friendly way.

Last week, reader Lynn Duggan left a comment with her way and it’s great!  I’ve tried it three times now and had perfect results every time, using less water, less propane and putting out a lot less heat and steam.

Lynn’s method works for anything but the tiniest pasta (stars and so on) and thinnest angel-hair pasta.  It’s also not suitable for fresh pasta.

  • Use half the water called for on the package and salt (or bouillon) as usual. Cover pan and bring to a boil.
  • Add pasta, cover and boil for 3 minutes.
  • Turn heat off and let sit, covered, for 10 more minutes.
  • Drain* and use as desired.

Perfect al dente!

*I use this water to rinse other dishes (pre-washing) so that it’s not wasted.

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  1. Susan Leaf says:

    Same technique also works for our small crockpot with rice. I was always getting overcooked rice by keeping the crockpot on low for the whole time. I keep it on low for 1 1/2 hrs and then shut it off, placing a towel over it to keep the heat in. We use a 300w inverter for powering the crockpot while underway and keep it in the sink to prevent it from spilling.

  2. Great tip. Not sure if I saw it on this site or another about warming plates but I use waste hot cooking water (such as from the pasta) to warm plates. Simply pour onto the plate, leave for a couple of minutes and pour away. A quick wipe of the plate and the heat will dry the plate. Very quick way to heat plates but not for use on a rolling boat!!

  3. You can use a similar technique for boiling potatoes too. You might need to play around with the timing a bit to get it right depending on the size of the pot and the amount of the potatoes, but as long as the lid is snug enough that the heat is retained, once boiled the potatoes will continue to cook with the heat turned off.

  4. Yesterday, I was gifted with a copy of your book.
    My daughter surprised me with it.
    Your book is super! I’m thrilled with it.
    I love it … almost as much as I love my super kid (winkwink)

  5. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. I’ve been using the cold water (absolutely cold or you have one huge noodle!) start in a skillet for the last few months. The pasta never sticks and by the time the water is boiling the pasta is almost done. I never would have believed it if I hadn’t tried it!

  7. Will give this a try. Thanks! I have been using half seawater half fresh (Lin Pardey suggestion maybe?) and find it works well and saves potable water.

  8. I can confirm that the Boat Galley tip works brilliantly even when catering for 10 people! I have been doing this for several years!

  9. I recently read a suggestion to cook grains by pouring boiling water over them in a thermos and letting it sit.

    I’m wondering if such a method would work with some of the tiny pastas you mentioned as not being effective with this method.

  10. Sounds great but using starchy water to rinse doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. Wouldn’t it leave a film?

  11. love this! yummy pasta – always good!

  12. A tip that a reader sent me in an email:

    An update to your pasta note. You don’t have to boil the pasta…

  13. I’m not on a boat, never lived on a boat (daughter has), and sadly probably never will. I still read and love your posts because they are just good common sense. Thank you.

  14. We also use a portable camp stove outside when it’s too hot in the boat. Great tips here, thanks!

  15. I tried it and it worked pretty well. Questions. The three minutes is after the water returns to boil? I had a problem with pasta( fettuccine) stuck together and not really cooked. Can you stir during the three minutes? During the 10?

  16. Tried this today. Worked well! Thank you for sharing.

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