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How To Prepare Pasta Perfectly

Updated on October 19, 2014
Seashell Pasta ready to eat!!
Seashell Pasta ready to eat!! | Source

Both my husband and I are crazy about Italian food, so after we were married I was eager to show off my cooking skills by making him homemade pasta and red sauce for dinner. He loved the sauce, but was not at all complimentery of the pasta I made. I think his words were something along the lines of, "The pasta has no flavor and is overcooked." Of course, I was super disappointed when he said this, but he went on to show me how to cook pasta perfectly.

As a teenager, my husband worked in the kitchen of his uncle's Italian restaurant, and learned from the chefs how to prepare pasta correctly. Before meeting my husband, I never thought about how pasta tasted or whether or not it should have "bite." I was under the impression the sauce and protein were the stars of all pasta dishes, but he informed me I was mistaken. Although the sauce is important, the pasta plays an important role in each dish. I was surprised to learn pasta can be seasoned by adding salt to the water. I use finely ground sea salt, but table salt is fine, too. I was shocked to discover how much more flavorful my pasta became after the addition of this simple step. 

Choosing to add olive oil to the water prior to the cooking process is completely optional.  I have noticed quite a few well known chefs do not add any oil to the water before cooking pasta, because they state the oil prevents the sauce from sticking to the pasta. I personally do not add any oil to the water I cook my pasta in, and my dishes turn out beautifully, but if you prefer to, that is fine too. 

Finally, tasting the pasta while it is cooking helps to keep from overcooking it. My husband still functions as my official "taster" when I make pasta! In this lens I will detail how to cook pasta step-by-step, which will enable you to prepare pasta perfectly every time!

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Time required: 8-10 mins

Difficulty: easy

Cost: $50.00

Materials:

  • Colander or pasta scoop
  • 4 quart saucepan
  • Pasta
  • Finely ground sea salt

Salted water in a 4 quart saucepan.
Salted water in a 4 quart saucepan. | Source

Instructions:

1. Fill a 4 quart saucepan three-quarters full of water and add plenty of finely ground sea salt. I do not use exact measurements for this. I add enough sea salt to nearly cover the bottom of my saucepan, however the amount can be adjusted if you like less salt in your food. Cover with lid, and turn heat to high. I do not add any olive oil to the water, but it can be added if it is your personal preference.

Two servings of uncooked pasta in Perfect Measure Pasta Basket.
Two servings of uncooked pasta in Perfect Measure Pasta Basket. | Source

2. I prefer to measure my pasta servings using a basket like the one you see here. Pasta baskets like this allow me to make 1-3 servings of pasta, therefore controlling portion size and prevents waste of pasta.

Water at a rolling boil.
Water at a rolling boil. | Source

3. Heat the water until it reaches a rolling boil, which occurs only when the water has reached the boiling point. This may seem simple, but many people do not know to do this. If only small bubbles are seen moving in the water, the water has not reached the boiling point. If the pasta is added before the water has reached the boiling point it will take longer for the pasta to cook.

Pasta during the cooking process
Pasta during the cooking process | Source

4. The pasta should remain cooking at a continuous boil for at least 8 minutes, or until al dente. Do not forget to test the pasta for doneness and flavor during the cooking process. If needed, add more sea salt and continue cooking the pasta until it is done.

Ready to serve pasta
Ready to serve pasta | Source

5. When the pasta is cooked to al dente drain it by using a pasta scoop or colander.

Source

6. The finished product should be served immediately.

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Thanks for dropping by my hub! What is your favorite type of pasta? Do you have trouble getting your pasta cooked just right? Please leave me a comment!

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    • tracy-arizmendi profile image
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      Tracy Arizmendi 3 years ago from Northern Virginia

      @MariaMontgomery: Awesome!! Thanks a million Mia-Mia!! :)

    • tracy-arizmendi profile image
      Author

      Tracy Arizmendi 3 years ago from Northern Virginia

      @MariaMontgomery: Glad you liked the information Mia-Mia and many thanks for dropping by my lens! Thanks for the comment to btw!!

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      I'm back to let you know I have pinned this lens to my board, "Only the Best Kitchen Recipes and Tips" at MiaMiaDesigns on Pinterest. Thanks, again.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Great info, especially for the beginner cooks out there. Plus, it never hurts to remind all of us "old hands" in the kitchen. Nice lens. Well done.

    • tracy-arizmendi profile image
      Author

      Tracy Arizmendi 3 years ago from Northern Virginia

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks for reading my lens Susan52!! Many thanks for the comment and squid like also!!!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Great information! I sometimes fudge on the boiling point step, so I'll watch that. I can usually judge when my pasta is done by the look of the boil and even the sound of the bubbling. If I get sidetracked with my back to the stove or miss the timer, I can listen and tell whether I've overcooked it. My theory is that the water starts getting starchy at that point, making it look and sound different. We love pasta, so I just hate it when that happens!