How to cook pasta perfectly every time.
- 1 pound dried pasta
- 4 quarts cold water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- Eight-quart pot or larger
- Wooden spoon
Bring water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Stir in salt. Add dried pasta all at once and push down any strands that have risen to the top. Cook, stirring frequently, to prevent sticking, until al dente, meaning “to the tooth” in Italian. Not too hard, not too soft. Taste the pasta after six or seven minutes to determine when it’s cooked perfectly. The white chalky center of the pasta should be gone at this point.
Drain immediately into a colander. Shake several times to remove excess water and then toss with pasta sauce.
Fresh pasta should be cooked in boiling salted water following the above directions. Fresh pasta cooks in a fraction of the time of the dried varieties. Taste it every 30 seconds or so until it is al dente. Long thin noodles, such as linguine and fettuccine should be just right in just under two minutes. Fresh stuffed pasta, such as tortellini, needs about 8 minutes.
- Pasta needs ample room to move around when cooking—make sure you use a large enough pot.
- Figure ¼ pound of dried pasta or ⅓ pound fresh pasta for each main course serving.
- When buying pasta, look for dried pasta made from 100% hard durum wheat, called semolina.
- Store boxed pasta in a cool dry place for up to one year.
- Store fresh pasta in the refrigerator for up to five days.