How to Make Great Pasta


Cooking Tips

  • Keep in mind that most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked.
  • Be sure to use a pot large enough to hold the pasta without crowding. Pasta needs to move around in boiling water. For 1 pound of pasta, use a pot that holds a minimum of 6 quarts of water.
  • Use only cold or cool water for cooking pasta. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil. (To bring water to a boil more quickly, cover the pot with a lid). If the water’s not at a rolling boil, the noodles release natural starches that act like glue, causing them to stick together.
  • Stir the pasta two to three times during the cooking process with a long, wooden spoon. Do not cover the pot with a lid.

Perfect al Dente

  • Pasta can easily overcook. Cook until it is al dente. There should be a light resistance, or chewiness, when biting it. Pasta should not be soft or overdone, or have a hard center.
  • The only way to know when the al dente stage is reached is to taste the pasta. Keep in mind that pasta continues to cook when you remove it from the stove, drain it, and coat it in sauce. To stop pasta from cooking once it’s reached the al dente stage, add 1/2 to 1 cup of cold water to the hot pasta water. This lowers the temperature and stops the cooking process. Drain as usual.

Sauce and Starch

  • Never rinse pasta. Rinsing removes most of the starches and nutrients.
  • Don’t add olive oil to the cooking water. Oil coats pasta, and it prevents sauce from sticking.
  • Consider adding a small amount of reserved cooking water to pasta sauce for added flavor or to thin a thick sauce.

“Cooking Pasta—How To Cook Perfect Pasta,”

“Top Ten Tips for Cooking Pasta,”


Lisa Fabian