We include products we think are useful for our readers. We might get a small commission if you use the links on this page to make a purchase. Here’s our process.
The formula for pasta seems oh-so-obvious. Dinner is just water and pasta, right? Well, sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the most difficult.
It turns out there is a small window for pasta to be perfectly cooked, without sticking together or being either mushy or hard in the middle. And then there are all the other factors to consider. Should you add salt or oil to the water? What about an after-rinse with cold water?
Take a deep breath and let go of the pasta panic if your head is spinning. We’ve put together the best, and simplest, advice for consistently making excellent pasta.
Select a spacious pot to allow the pasta plenty of room to move around in. This is the perfect opportunity to use that eight or twelve quart stockpot.
Test the pasta two minutes before it’s “ready”
Check the pasta packaging for the cook times. This is where it gets tricky. Have you ever noticed how time estimates are provided in recipes? For example, regular dry spaghetti takes between 6 and 8 minutes. Depending on the pasta and the package, that could be between 5 and 7 minutes or between 10 and 12.
(If you’re cooking at high altitude, that adds yet another variable.)
Start checking the pasta’s doneness on the earlier range of the time frame. Fish out a single strand of pasta using a pasta fork (or whatever — we find a pair of chopsticks is perfect). Let it cool, then bite into it.
You want the pasta to bounce and have a springy feel when you bite into it. Does the center resist just enough or is there still a little crunch?
Except if you prefer it softer, a bowl of slightly soggy noodles occasionally tastes like home. However, if you’re not a fan of a slightly undercooked texture, it’s better to err on the side of al dente (see the instructions below).
Myth: Drain your pasta until it’s completely dry to prevent watering down your sauce.
Myth: Water should be kept at a rolling boil during the entire cooking process.
Should I cover boiling water?
When to Cover a Pot. When attempting to retain heat, always cover the pot. In order to save time and energy, put that lid on when bringing something to a simmer or a boil, such as a pot of water for cooking pasta or blanching vegetables, a batch of soup, or a sauce.
How do you put noodles in boiling water?
In fact, there’s no requirement for continuing to heat the pot. If you take the pot off the heat as soon as you add the pasta, cover it right away, stir the pasta once or twice during the first minute, then cover it again and let it sit for the recommended cooking time, the pasta will cook perfectly.
Do you leave the heat on when boiling noodles?
Once the water has reached a good, strong boil, add the pasta. To make the pasta flavorful when you remove it, salt the water. Boil for approximately 10 minutes; at 9 minutes, check the pasta (I remove a piece and taste it). It may take up to 15 minutes to fully cook.