We all love to indulge in a full, carb-happy bowl full of noodles – but it can certainly put a damper on the experience if the pasta is not cooked correctly. If you’re looking to improve your pasta-making skills, take a look at our suggestions below, which shed light on the important factors you should consider before bringing your water to a boil. With them, you’ll be able to make the perfect plate of pasta every single time.
Recognize that not all pasta will cook the same.
You might assume that all pasta will roughly follow the same cooking timeframe – but that is far from the truth. Fresh pasta will cook more quickly than dried pasta. Different shapes and sizes of pasta will cook in different amounts of time. For example, more rigid kinds of pasta, like penne, will require a longer cooking time than spaghetti or elbow macaroni, and if you prefer wheat pasta, be prepared to spend 2 to 4 more minutes cooking it than traditional enriched pasta.
Keep the pasta moving continuously.
After you’ve prepared your large, uncovered pot of boiling water, you might make the mistake of dumping in the uncooked noodles and leaving them be. But, hold it right there! Pasta can and will stick to the bottom of the pot if you don’t stir it frequently. Always keep a watchful eye on your pasta and stir it often. Keeping the water rapidly boiling will help this process too, as the movement of the water keeps the pasta pieces from sticking together and helps with the overall execution of your pasta dish.
Know when to stop cooking the pasta.
Depending on what you’re making, you might come across instructions to cook the pasta “al dente.” This common phrase translates to “to the tooth” and refers to pasta that is slightly undercooked but still edible. However, though many Italian recipes call for al dente pasta, certain dishes – like a big pot of comforting mac and cheese – do well with fully-cooked pasta. The best way to tell when you should drain your pasta is by tasting it. Perfectly al dente pasta will be slightly chewy with a small, uncooked core at the center. For more tender pasta, wait until there is no white uncooked core showing.
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