spaghetti boiled

How to cook pasta

I mean, how hard can it be to cook pasta? You toss some dried pasta in a pot of water, when you think it’s done, to throw it against the wall and then if it sticks (or is it when it doesn’t stick?) then it’s done, right?

Here’s what you need:

  • A pot that will hold enough water but still have room at the top. We prefer a tall, wide one but make sure it’s not too tinny or the pasta will stick to the bottom.
  • Colander. You will need to drain your cooked pasta in a colander in the sink.
  • Salt

Cooking Pasta 101

  1. Boil water
  2. Put in a little salt for more flavor
  3. Stir and check every now and then until it’s al dente
  4. Strain

There are three choices for done-ness: Al dente, firm and soft. You’ll want al dente, which means “to the tooth” in Italian. That means it’s thoroughly cooked, but still offers resistance when chewing, and thus isn’t too hard or too soft. Think Goldilocks.

  • When pasta is done it sticks to the wall. Uh, no, it just makes a mark you have to clean up. Usually if it will do this, it is actually over cooked. Leave the sticking wall things to spilled beer.
  •  I have to oil the water to keep it from sticking. No one knows where this came from but it’s false. It’s a waste of oil, and we all know oil and water don’t mix. How is the oil supposed to get between strands of pasta if it is floating?
  • If I salt the water my pasta will turn out salty. Too much salt is indeed a bad thing, but in the cooking process, this is about the only time you can infuse flavor INTO the pasta, the rest is just coated on the outside. Salt is crucial actually.
  • If I break the pasta it will cook faster. Nope, the diameter and thickness of the pasta itself is what determines its cook time. (It will, however, help you fully submerge longer noodles if you don’t have a deep pot.)

Always rinse your pasta. Well, if you don’t like any sauce sticking to your pasta, sure, go right ahead. All the starches that cling to the outside of the strands are what allows the sauces to adhere to pasta, and can even help thicken some, so don’t waste it.