Most people living with PKU will need to cater for both PKU and non-PKU eaters at the same time. This is certainly the case in our household, where many of our dishes are pasta-based. Below are a few tips for cooking both PKU and non-PKU pasta.
Two pastas in one pot
If you have a ‘double broiler’ or pasta pot with steamer insert, you can cook both pastas at the same time and still keep them separate. This has proven to be a big winner in our household. It saves on time, stove space and washing up.
We have found that it is easier to cook the PKU pasta in the top insert, and cook the non-PKU pasta in the bottom. It just sticks less this way. We also found that it is easier to have the empty insert in the pot while working out how much water to use.
You may need to experiment with your pots a bit, as you will want to ensure you have enough water to cover the pasta in the insert while cooking. We start with the insert in the pot and fill with water until the water level is up to about an inch above the bottom of the insert. Then we take the insert out and start heating the water on the stove. If you are unsure, err on the side of more water rather than less.
Salt and oil
I once knew a Frenchman who insisted that pasta cooked without salt and oil was an abomination. I tried it, and can confirm that both PKU and non-PKU pasta benefit from being cooked in water which has had lots of salt added. We use about a tablespoon of salt in our big pot (photo above).
Yes, that both sounds and looks like a lot. But remember that when you drain the pasta most of the salt goes down the drain. Try it and I bet you find that it does make a difference to the flavour of the pasta.
Adding a drop of oil in the water will help to prevent the pasta from sticking. It really is just a drop of oil which is needed here. The oil will also reduce the bubbles in the pot, making for less boil over and less to clean up!
A sauna in your kitchen
Bring your salted & lightly oiled water to the boil. Suzanne, the NSPKU dietician, recommends bringing the water to a rolling boil before adding pasta. She adds that:
“You are aiming for a sauna effect in your kitchen...lots of water boiling hard, lots of steam.”
At that point, pour the one type of pasta into the bottom of the pot and give it a quick stir. Then, put in the insert, pour in the other pasta and stir again. We have found that both the Loprofin PKU pasta fusilli and the non-PKU equivalent cook in 12 minutes. It will take a bit of experimentation for your stove, but once you find your sweet spot remember to set a cooking timer. Taste carefully, and drain the pot when the pasta is firm and slightly chewy.
Tips for cooking PKU pasta
- Use plenty of water.
- Add oil and salt.
- Bring the water to a vigorous boil, get that sauna effect!
- Set a timer.
Next week, I’ll post another time saver. A recipe for making both PKU and non-PKU Lasagne in the same oven dish.