Timing out your ingredients for a meal is one of the trickier parts of cooking. Pasta is especially fickle as it can become overcooked or dry out easily. It's ideal to get all the parts of the meal cooked at the same time, but if that's not possible, there are ways to hold pasta while keeping it hot, fresh and ready to serve when the rest of the meal catches up.
If the pasta is done too soon, drain it, returning about one-half of the water to the pot. Rinse the pasta well with cool water to stop it from cooking, and toss it with olive oil to keep it from sticking. Place the colander into the pot so that it is suspended over the hot water. Then cover the pot to retain the heat.
Heat a large bowl in the oven. Drain and rinse the pasta and toss it with a little bit of olive oil. Turn it out into the warmed bowl and cover the bowl with aluminum foil.
Hold pasta for a buffet by cooking it for one-third less time than the package instructs. Toss it with a generous amount of olive oil. Place it in a chafing dish.
Sturdier pasta keeps longer than delicate types, so plan a buffet around penne rather than angel hair.
Pasta must be kept at at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent it from developing bacteria. Anything not eaten after sitting for two hours at a cooler temperature must be thrown away.
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.