Beth R. | Oct 19, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Making perfect pasta

Any college student knows how to dump dry macaroni into boiling water, but there’s an art to making pasta perfectly. Follow these simple yet helpful tips to make sure your next pasta dish turns out non-sticky, flavorful and perfectly al dente.

Nail the Proportions
Like most meals, perfect pasta relies on perfect ratios. The amount of pasta you’re making directly impacts the amount of water and salt you should be using. So keep this math in mind:

1 lb of pasta = feeds 4-6 people
1 lb of pasta = 6 quarts of water
6 quarts of water = 1 tablespoon to ¼ cup of kosher salt or sea salt

That may seem like a lot of water, but trust us. The larger quantity of water, the more space the pasta has to move around, which prevents sticking and helps it return to a boil more quickly after adding the pasta.

As for the salt, this is the first step towards building flavor in your dish. Have you ever heard the phrase “taste of the sea”?…don’t skimp.

Rolling Boil
Add your pasta to the water once it’s reached a rolling boil. A rolling boil is when the water is boiling rapidly with lots of bubbling. Once this is achieved, add your raw pasta and stir it right away to prevent sticking, stir constantly for the first 1-2 minutes. Then cover the pot until the water returns to a regular boil, remove the cover and stir occasionally.

All Al Dente
Al dente pasta is the way to go. But how do you know you’ve achieved true al dente nirvana? By carefully taste testing strands it should be tender, yet firm, but, certainly not brittle. Start by taste testing about three minutes before the recommended cooking time on the package.

Strain It
Use a colander or a wide wire skimmer (also called a spider) to scoop the pasta from the water. Make sure your pasta isn’t bone dry.  Never rinse it with water or pour oil on the pasta.  Both of these will prevent sauce from being absorbed into the pasta.  Hot pasta absorbs sauce, so don’t wait for your pasta to cool before adding the sauce.

Don’t Throw Out Your Pasta Water
That starchy liquid that’s left in your pot shouldn’t go down the drain. It seems odd that you would add water to a sauce to thicken it, but that is just what pasta water will do!  The starchy water actually gives your sauce more body and creaminess.  Start with one ladleful, it will thin out at first, but become thicker as the starch is absorbed,  This method works best with tomato-based sauces, oil or broth based sauces (carbonara or picatta) rather than dairy sauces such as alfredos.

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