10 Tips for Cooking Perfect Pasta

  1. For a pound of pasta use at least 4 quarts of water — double that is even better. By allowing the pasta to move easily through the cooking water, you prevent stickiness and promote even cooking.
  2. For each gallon of water add at least 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt. Adding salt to your pasta water not only raises the temperature at which it boils, it makes sure your pasta is flavorful. When you cook pasta at lower temperatures, as happens at higher elevations, the pasta takes longer to cook, making it more difficult to get it properly al dente.
  3. Some cookbooks advise that you make your pasta sauces a touch salty to compensate for the lack of salt in the pasta. That is just foolish. If you cook your pasta correctly, it will be richly flavored.
  4. Wait until your water has come to a rolling boil before adding your pasta. Make sure you stir your pasta early on, as this will prevent your pasta from sticking.
  5. Cook your pasta for the allotted time at a healthy boil. The time on the box is rarely accurate but it may be a good guideline.
  6. If thin long pasta does not slide off a spoon when you try and fish out a strand to test, it’s probably not ready. Pasta is ready when it is firm but not crisp. In order to have a finished pasta dish with this texture, you have to slightly undercook your pasta.
  7. Do not add oil to your pasta water. All you’ll get is oil on top of your pasta water, and oil through your colander, which will be quickly washed away by boiling water.
  8. Drain your pasta in a colander and give it a few shakes. For the best results, finish cooking your pasta and sauce together for a minute or two.
  9. If you want to oil your pasta so that you can hold it for a minute or two, do so after you’ve drained your pasta.
  10. Don’t rinse your pasta unless you’re making pasta salad. Rinsing washes away dissolved starch that clings to the outside of the pasta and help sauces to stick to the pasta.

About Chef Ro

I am executive chef of Barcellona Bites, a boutique catering and personal chef service in Folsom, CA. I am also a wife, mom of two college-aged daughters in the Pacific Northwest, yogi and animal lover. Please LIKE my facebook page for tasty recipes, helpful information and kitchen, cooking and lifestyle tips. www.facebook.com/barcellonabites
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2 Responses to 10 Tips for Cooking Perfect Pasta

  1. Jim Seybert says:

    Considering #1 I think the pot I use to cook pasta is WAY too small. Looks like I should invest in a huge kettle. The only one I have is an old Navy stock pot; too big and bulky for everyday use. Thanks for the lesson –


    • Chef Ro says:

      The other tip to really take to heart is the salt in the water. I really learned that in culinary school. And I love to make home-made pasta, which only needs a few seconds in the water and tastes so good. No wonder I married an Italian.


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