At first glance, cooking pasta may seem like an easy endeavor, but there are things to consider when cooking to impress. The window for success is quite small, so to get the perfect pasta, follow these tips:
1 ) Use a large pot so the pasta has enough room to move around. An 8 or 12-quart stockpot is a good option. Put about 5 to 6 quarts of water in the pot for a 16 oz package of pasta. It may be tempting to use less water in the hopes of making the boiling process faster, but the proper amount of water is required for every bit of pasta to be submerged. If time is a concern, put a lid on the water while heating so that it will retain the heat and come to a boil quicker.
2 ) Add some salt. Use at least a tablespoon for 6 quarts of water. This will help boost the pasta’s flavor.
3 ) Allow the water to come into a full, rolling boil before adding the pasta. Adding the pasta will slow the boiling, so if needed, put the lid back on initially. Once boiling resumes, take off the lid and begin stirring. Stir at least 2 or 3 times during cooking to prevent sticking and clumping. The pasta package should list a cooking time range.
4 ) Begin testing the pasta when you reach the earlier time on the time range (e.g. for a 5 to 7 minute cook time, begin checking after 5 minutes.) Do this by taking out one strand of pasta and taking a bite. The pasta should have a springy, bouncy feel to it.
5 ) Before draining the water, scoop out 1 or 2 cups into a heat-safe container. This water can be used later in the sauce to help bind the sauce and pasta together. It can also thin down thick sauces to better coat the pasta.
6 ) Put a colander in the sink and drain the pasta. Put the pasta back in the pot and add in the sauce and saved pasta water. Toss it to help coat the pasta evenly. Serve while hot.