Cook perfect pasta!
- Per pound of pasta, bring 4 quarts water to the boil; some chefs recommend 6 to 8. Bring the water to a rolling boil, then add 1-1 /2 tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta.
- Add a tablespoon of oil to the water only when cooking stuffed fresh (not dried) pasta -- it helps reduce friction and keeps the pasta from bursting.
- When the water returns to a rolling boil, add the pasta all at once, stir, and cover the pot briefly, just to hurry the water back to a boil. Then cook, uncovered, stirring frequently.
- Drain the pasta in a colander. Do not rinse it! Return it to the hot pot or place it in a large, warm bowl, and toss it immediately with the hot sauce. If the sauce is not quite ready, you can toss the pasta with a few tablespoons of olive oil and cover the pot or bowl.
- When making delicious pasta dishes, be sure to choose a pasta shape and sauce that complement each other. Thin, delicate pastas like angel hair or thin spaghetti, should be served with light, thin sauces. Thicker pasta shapes, like fettuccine, work well with heavier sauces. Pasta shapes with holes or ridges like mostaccioli or radiatore, are perfect for chunkier sauces.
Cooking pasta al dente, or firm to the bite, preserves some of the vitamins and minerals that are lost into the cooking water with longer cooking times.
If you are making pasta for a cold salad, rinse it in cold water to stop the cooking process. Dry it well before dressing it, as an oil-based dressing will slide right off wet pasta.