How to Cook Perfect Dried Pasta

Apr 30, 2011 11:00 am

The backbone for an easy meal, perfect everytime

Photo: Lindsay Hunt
Photo: Lindsay Hunt
 

Pasta is a quick and easy meal. But it’s easy to get wrong. Not enough cooking time and you’ll end up with crispy noodles, and not in a good way. Cook the noodles too long and you can end up with a starchy, gloppy, tangled mess. Not ideal for the "romantic" puttanesca you planned on making for your date. Follow these steps and you’ll have perfect pasta every time.

What you'll need:

Water, large pot, pasta, salt, tongs, colander

Steps:

  1. Boil water in a large pot. To make sure pasta doesn’t stick together, use at least 4 pints of water for every 8 ounces of pasta. Make sure that the water is at a fast, fierce, rolling boil before you add the pasta.
  2. Salt the water with at least a tablespoon of salt. The salty water adds flavor to the pasta.
  3. Pour pasta into boiling water. If you are using a long pasta, don’t break it; push it against the bottom of the pot and as you feel it give, keep pushing. It will soften up and collapse to fit in the pot within 30 seconds.
  4. Keep the lid off. The water will return to a boil fairly quickly. Do not put a lid on the pot, the lid will cause the water to boil over
  5. As the pasta starts to cook, stir it well with the tongs so the noodles don’t stick to each other —or the pot.
  6. Different pastas will take different amounts of time to cook. Use the directions on the package as your guideline. As a general rule dried pastas will be done in 10-12 minutes, but start checking doneness at 8 minutes, then again at 9 minutes, etc.  Just pull a piece out and taste or check the texture.
  7. Always taste a strand or piece of pasta before draining to make sure the texture is right. Pasta cooked properly should be al dente — a little chewy.
  8. Drain cooked pasta in a colander. No need to drain it too thoroughly, a few drops of cooking water will keep the pasta moist.
  9. Add sauce right away and serve
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