Cooking pasta is as simple as boiling a pot of water, but for perfect pasta every time you must pay attention to detail. First of all, never decide to cook pasta if you?re in and out of the kitchen. Pasta is one of those dishes that you must keep a close eye on while it is cooking. Here are some other tips for cooking perfect pasta.
Cook the pasta in a large pot. A rule of thumb is to use about five pints of water for every pound of pasta. The pasta must be able to roll around in the pot while cooking or else it will be too sticky. Bring the water to a rolling boil; add 2 tbsp of salt, then add the pasta.
Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Pasta loves company, so don?t turn your back on it. Stir the pasta within minutes of adding it to the pot. Sticking usually happens within those first crucial minutes before starch is released in the water. Note: Do not cover the pot as it will overflow. To prevent messy overflow, leave a wooden spoon in the pot.
Follow the directions. Use the pasta cook time printed on the packaging to determine how long your pasta should be cooked. You can cook your pasta ?al dente? by testing it a few times before end of the cook time.
Reserve a cup of the water. When the pasta is cooked just right, turn off the heat and take out a cup of the cooking water. This starchy water will be used to bring your pasta sauce to the perfect consistency. It is the secret ingredient used to thicken pasta sauce in most kitchens.
Drain the pasta. Your colander should be ready and waiting in the kitchen sink. Drain the pasta in the colander but do not rinse. The starch water will keep the pasta from drying out and will make it easy for your sauce to adhere to the pasta. If you?re going to use the pasta to make cold dishes, then it is appropriate to rinse out the starch and stop the cooking process.
Add the sauce. Pour your sauce immediately onto the warm pasta. If you delay, the noodles will cool quickly and start sticking to one another. The sauce will help to keep them separated.
Adding a teaspoon of oil into the boiling water before you add the pasta is supposed to prevent the pasta from sticking to one another. There is a lot of debate on the validity of this claim, but there?s no harm in trying.
Use pasta tongs to serve spaghetti, lifting it high to separate the portions.
Serve the pasta in deep warmed plates so it stays hot. Drain, serve and eat the pasta quickly so that it does not get cold and gluey.
Anthony Picasse attended culinary school in Paris and devotes his time cooking at their family owned restaurant. He likes trying out new recipes and shares cooking tips to those who ask. At home he usually sticks to 30 minute recipes he can quickly whip up after a long day at work.