In my cooking classes, I am often asked for my secrets on how to cook pasta correctly – to ensure that it comes out flavorful, just al dente (not too chewy nor soft), not stuck together, and not slippery. So, here are my top 10 tips:
- Use enough water – in the correct size (i.e., large enough!) pan. I follow the package instructions – usually around 5 to 6 quarts of water per 1 pound of pasta.
- Time it right. Again, I follow package instructions, but start testing for doneness (by eating a piece!) around 2 minutes prior to earliest recommended cook time.
- Put enough salt in the cooking water – it seasons the pasta from the inside out as it cooks. So, don’t skimp on the salt – add 1 to 2 tablespoons of kosher salt to a large pot (5 to 6 quarts) of boiling water when cooking your pasta (don’t add until water is boiling).
- Never add oil to the water – that just makes the sauce slip off the noodles!
- Don’t add pasta until water is boiling. I find the pasta is more likely to come out soft if you add it too early.
- Don’t cover the pan – it’s more likely to boil over if you do.
- Always stir your pasta – as soon as it hits the water, and once or twice more during cooking. This prevents it from sticking together.
- Drain immediately – to stop cooking. Put the pasta back in the pan to keep warm, if needed.
- Rinse or not (after cooking)? Many chefs say not to rinse; sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the type of pasta, the sauce, and how I’m using it. I always tell you to rinse in my recipes if I think it’s beneficial.
- For stuffed shells, let cooked pasta cool and dry out before attempting to stuff. Same goes for lasagne (if not using no-boil noodles).
Now you are ready to make one of my scrumptious pasta dishes! You can find a variety of fun, easy to prepare recipes here.