Regulating food temperature is one of the most critical aspects of cooking, even when you defrost a frozen dish. If you do not defrost a pasta dish properly, it may develop an undesirable texture or flavor, particularly if the dish contains dairy products. The key to successfully defrosting frozen pasta is moderating the duration and temperature with the volume of food to ensure that the entire portion thaws thoroughly without degrading the quality of the ingredients.
The Refrigerator Method
Remove the lid or foil that covered the dish in the freezer, which may have frozen condensation on it. Melted condensation will form pools of water on top of the pasta. Cover the pasta with a fresh lid or new sheet of aluminum foil.
Place the pasta dish in the refrigerator to thaw slowly. A gradual change in temperature is less detrimental to the texture and flavor of the food. The refrigerator method is the most gentle defrosting method, which preserves the quality of the food. And it is the safest method, protecting the food from contamination and spoilage, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Thaw the pasta in the refrigerator overnight. Allow two days to thaw a large or deep dish. Most dishes only need one day, but dense portions of pasta may require extra time.
Insert a toothpick or sharp knife into the center into the center of the dish to determine if the food is thoroughly defrosted.
The Cold-Water Method
Replace the lid or foil that covered the dish in the freezer to prevent condensation from pooling on top of the pasta as it thaws. Seal the top edge well to prevent water from seeping into the pan.
Fill a dish larger than the pan of frozen pasta with cool water.
Dip the pan of pasta into the cold water. The water level should be roughly as high as the pasta is in its pan but not high enough to leak into the food.
Leave the pan of pasta sitting in the water. Change the water periodically -- about once an hour -- until the food is room temperature. Though the water is cool, it is warmer than the frozen pasta. The cold water method raises the temperature of the food faster than the refrigerator method, but it should not be excessively detrimental to the quality of the food.