Like a lot of kids, I loved pasta night when I was younger. Today, it’s certainly a favorite night of the week for my 3½-year-old twin girls. As a child, I remember my mother making spaghetti in a large pot with an integrated strainer basket, perfect for keeping the spaghetti hot when we couldn’t all eat dinner at the same time. Fast-forward 25 years or so, and my pasta-making days are a little different from those of my childhood. Pasta is still usually on the menu once a week — but, with little kids around, I stick with shorter pastas such as penne and fusili, which are a lot less messy than spaghetti.
But, I know a day will come when my girls will be more excited about twirling spaghetti on their forks than poking noodles, and when that time comes I have the perfect tool: the Lagostina Pastaiola pasta set. This set includes a six-liter pot with an integrated strainer basket, a double-handled lid, a wooden spaghetti measure and a wood-toothed serving spoon. The pot is made of stainless steel with an aluminum layer along the base that extends up the sides of the pot, which is meant to improve heat distribution. It’s heavy enough to know it’s good quality, but not so heavy and big that you don’t want to take it out for use.
The integrated strainer basket is specially designed with holes that vary in size. There are smaller holes at the base and larger holes at the top, which is supposed to prevent water from spilling out of the pot when the basket is taken out and to promote efficient circulation of water while the pasta is cooking. The first time I used it, I filled the pot with water before putting in the insert, a mistake led to water flowing over the pot! Be sure to keep the insert in the pot when filling it up.
When it was time to serve the pasta, the small holes on the bottom of the pot meant it took a while for the water to drain. Personally I don’t like excess water in my bowl, so this bothered me somewhat, but I did like that I could reheat the pasta easily if we weren’t all eating at the same time — exactly the way my mother did it.
In a thoughtful touch, Lagostina made the double-handle lid do double-duty as a holder for the wooden spoon. I love this feature — no mess on the counter or extra spoon rest to clean! Just be sure to wear oven mitts when handling the pot as it gets very hot.
What I liked best about the Pastaiola set is the ability to reheat pasta easily and the ease of cleaning the integrated strainer basket. But, unless you need to reheat pasta multiple times in one cooking, it’s probably just as easy to use a pot with a stand-alone strainer. But, maybe I’ll change my tune when my kids fall in love with spaghetti night!