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 for cooking pasta perfectly, every time:
- 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.
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