Food to the tooth. Al dente comes from the Italian word for tooth. That’s right, tooth. You’re probably wondering what in the world are those Italians talking about.

Al dente is term used to describe food — mostly pasta and risotto, sometimes rice and beans or even vegetables — that has been cooked to be firm, but not hard. Keeping pasta al dente requires draining it a minute or two before you think it’s completely ready as it continues to cook in the sauce and its own steam. Al forno dishes, like lasagna, are especially difficult to keep al dente as they are cooked twice — boiled and finished in the oven. What happens if it’s not al dente? Try again using our handy pasta-cooking guide

Use today’s Word of the Day: Bring Out The Best In Whole Wheat Pasta