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How To Cook Pasta

Updated on November 27, 2009

Cooking Pasta

In this delicious photo from Flickr User VolaVale, you can see the tasty results of learning how to cook pasta.
In this delicious photo from Flickr User VolaVale, you can see the tasty results of learning how to cook pasta.

Introduction To Cooking Pasta

Cooking pasta does not require very many materials.  Even ill equipped kitchens often contain all of the materials required to cook pasta.  The ingredients are simple, inexpensive and available at any grocery or convince store.

This article will show you how to cook pasta in 2 easy steps.  In addition to cooking the pasta itself, you'll learn how to make a basic, delicious sauce and be presented with a variety of options that can make pasta an exciting addition to any easy dinner or fast lunch.

How To Cook Pasta Video

What Ingredients and Materials Will You Need To Cook Pasta?

Required Materials:

  1. A medium or large pot
  2. A utensil to stir the pasta
  3. A stove


  1. A bag of dry pasta
  2. Water
  3. (Optional) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  4. (Optional) Salt

Steps to Cook Pasta

Start by warming up the cooking element on top of your stove and assembling your materials.

  1. Turn on a large stove top burner.  Set the dial to high.
  2. Fill a large pot with cold tap water.  4 to 5 quarts of water is usually enough water for a meal of pasta.  It doesn't really matter how much water you put in the pot so long as the water will not overflow when the pasta is submerged and the water is boiling.  Don't forget that you can always poor water out of the pot.
  3. Place the pot on the hot element.  Allow the water to bubble and boil.  This may take 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Optionally, add (roughly) a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the boiling water.  This will help to stop the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot while cooking.
  5. Optionally, add a couple of pinches of salt.  This tempers the water and provides a texture to the pasta to help it cook.

How Much Pasta Do I Need Per Meal?

  1. If you are cooking Pene (pictured above) a family of 4 will be comfortably fed by filling 1 medium sized salad (general purpose) bowl with pasta.
  2. Simply fill a bowl with dry pasta and you will have a good, rough measurement of how much pasta to cook.
  3. A heaping bowl will make enough for leftovers or seconds.
  4. If you would like to cook long pasta such as spaghetti or fettuccine noodles, you can either use n inexpensive plastic pasta measuring tool or simply use your fingers.  Close your thumb and your forefinger together to form a circle.  Fill this circle with long pasta.  This is generally the right amount of pasta for a family of 4.

Cook Pasta

  1. Now that the water is boiling and you have your pasta measured out, place the pasta in the water.
  2. If you are cooking long noodles such as spaghetti, break the noodles in half.  This will not only make them easier to cook, but it will make them easier to eat!
  3. Watch the water carefully.  Allow the water with the pasta in it to come to return to a boil.  Then, reduce the temperature of the burner to slightly above medium.  This will help ensure that the pasta does not stick to the pot.
  4. Stir the pasta with a spoon every 2-3 minutes. 

How Long Should I Cook Pasta?

  1. Depending on your stove cooking pasta could take between 10 and 20 minutes to cook.
  2. Every time you stir, remove one of the noodles.  Allow the noodle to cool slightly and then taste it.
  3. Pasta is done cooking when it is soft but still slightly chewy.
  4. If you're cooking for young children or older adults, overcooking the pasta slightly to where it is no longer chewy at all can help these groups of people enjoy your pasta.

Remove The Pasta From The Water

  1. If you have a strainer or colander, place it in the sink.
  2. Pour the pasta and water into the strainer.  Allow the water to drain.
  3. Give the pasta a shake to remove any excess water.  Do not rinse.
  4. If you do not have a strainer, allow the pasta and water to cool for at least 10 minutes; the boiling water may burn you if it is hot.  Place a large plate over the top of the pot and while holding the plate with one hand, lift the pot up vertically over the sink with the other.  Water will flow out.

How to Make Cheap Pasta Sauce That Tastes Great

This tasty looking photograph from the Flickr user thebittenword shows what your pasta will look like after you follow these instructions that outline how to make cheap pasta sauce.
This tasty looking photograph from the Flickr user thebittenword shows what your pasta will look like after you follow these instructions that outline how to make cheap pasta sauce.

How to Make Simple Pasta Sauce That Tastes Great!

Now that you have learned how to cook pasta, all that's left to making a delicious pasta dinner is to learn how to make a great tasting simple pasta sauce.

You can make this pasta sauce while your pasta is cooking.  This will save you time in the kitchen.  Completing this simple recipe should take about the same amount of time as cooking the pasta itself.

  1. Buy a container (jar or can) of pre-made pasta sauce.  Even the least expensive pasta sauce can come out tasting great with this method.
  2. Buy several vegetables that you like.  Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Red Peppers, Onions, etc are all great options.  Even Carrots and Peas can make excellent and healthy additions to your sauce.  If you're saving money, don't hesitate to use frozen, they taste great too!
  3. Heat a skillet on the cooktop.
  4. Dice each vegetable in similarly sized pieces. This way, they will all cook at similar rates.
  5. Place the vegetables in the skillet with a little bit of extra vergin olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper.
  6. Allow the vegetables to cook, stir frequently.
  7. When the vegetables are soft and slightly brown, reduce the cooktop heat to low.
  8. Allow the pan to cool slightly.
  9. Pour the pasta sauce into the skillet with the vegetables.  Warm the sauce with the vegetables.
  10. Stir constantly to avoid splattering.
  11. Combine the cooked pasta and the sauce in the pot that you used to cook the pasta.
  12. Cook the combined sauce and pasta on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.  This will engorge the pasta with sauce and add a professional twist to your pasta.


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      Bo Ludo 3 years ago

      If you are going to make a guide about how to boil water, you should at least know how to do it properly.

      Never put oil in pasta water, even "optionally". It only serves to prevent the pasta from cooking properly. Stir your pasta if you don't want it to stick together, don't waterproof it with oil.

      Always salt the water, and not "just a couple of pinches". The amount of salt is proportional to the amount of water- ~1 teaspoon per quart.

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      tasha davs 6 years ago

      i loooooooooove this recipe

    • profile image

      jaclyn robertson 6 years ago

      this helped me a lot for my science fair project.