For the perfect bowl of pasta, follow a few simple rules. First, fill your pot with plenty of water. For a pound of pasta, heat about six quarts of water and add plenty of salt. The taste should remind you of the sea. Add at least three tablespoons of salt for six quarts of water. Salt is an essential step to delicious pasta. As pasta absorbs liquid and swells, the salt in the cooking water seasons the pasta throughout, not just the surface. With properly-seasoned pasta, the sauce may require less salt overall.
Heat water to a rapid boil. Covering the pot will considerably expedite this step. To prevent pasta from sticking, stir it frequently during the first minute of cooking, then occasionally throughout the cooking process. Because oil separates from water and floats to the top, adding it to pasta cooking water does not prevent sticking.
Next, test for doneness. The tried and true method is to carefully remove a strand of pasta from the water and bite into it. If it seems soft, but sticks slightly to the teeth and there is a small white spot in the middle of the strand, you’re about there. Test the pasta every 30 seconds to minute thereafter. Generally speaking, fresh pasta cooks in 3 to 5 minutes. Thin dry pasta cooks in 6 to 9 minutes and thicker pasta cooks in 12 to 15 minutes.
Drain pasta right away and do not rinse. Rinsing removes the starch on the pasta’s surface which prevents sauce from clinging. Immediately toss hot pasta with a hot sauce that has been prepared in advance.
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