Cooking pasta perfectly

Pasta is easy to cook, but can be tricky to cook ‘just right’. These tips and hints are worth remembering. Stick to them and will have perfectly cooked pasta every time.

Use a large pot and lots of water

All types of pasta, from long strands to shapes, like lots of room to move whilst cooking. If there is not enough room for it to move, the pasta will stick together.

You will need about 5 litres of water to cook 500g of pasta.

Always salt the water

  • A 500g packet of pasta needs a very good pinch of salt.
  • Adding salt to the water flavours the water, which is absorbed by the pasta as it swells and cooks.
  • Salted water also boils at a slightly higher temperature, so the pasta should cook a little quicker.

No need to oil the water

It’s a waste of oil. If there is not enough water in the pot the pasta will stick, oil will not stop this happening.

Do not add the pasta until the water is at a brisk, rolling boil

A rolling boil is when large bubbles continually break the surface of the water.

  • Add all of the pasta at once.
  • If cooking spaghetti, fettuccine or any other long pasta, ease the strands of pasta into the pot.
  • Stir gently for the first minute or two. This will help the pasta to cook evenly and prevent sticking.

Do not rely on the clock

Use the packet instructions as a guide as to when the pasta will be ready.

  • Just short of the suggested cooking time, carefully remove a strand or two from the water with tongs and bite through this test piece. You may have to test the pasta a few times during the cooking.
  • Cook pasta to your liking, but the best pasta still has a little ‘bite’ or is ‘al dente’ as the Italians would say (translated “as to the bite”). It should be tender, but with a firmness to the bite. It should have no raw centre.
  • Dried pasta usually takes 8-12 minutes to cook.
  • Fresh pasta from 3-6 minutes to cook.

Never rinse pasta

Rinsing pasta will not only cool the pasta, it will make it stick together.

  • Drain it in colander and give the colander a few gentle shakes.
  • Leave a little of the water clinging to the pasta, this small amount of water helps spread the sauce.
  • Transfer it back to the cooking pot and add a ladleful of the prepared sauce - a meaty bolognaise is perfect. Stir this through the pasta, the meat sauce will coat the strands and prevent them sticking.
  • Serve the pasta in individual bowls and spoon a little more meat sauce over the top of each.

Essential tip

As a guide, you will need about 75g-125g of dried pasta per serve, or 125g-175g fresh pasta.

Rate this Article

Give a rating

From The Community

Sign into your account
You must be logged in to complete this action.
Sign in using your Facebook account

The fastest and easiest way to sign into your account.

Sign in with Facebook