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Cooking: Tips and Tricks on How To Cook Pasta

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CookingPasta is one of my all-time favorite foods. Spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli, Fettucini Alfredo...the list can go on and on.

Cooking pasta is one of the easiest techniques to master in the kitchen. Once you have it down pat, you can whip up a variety of dishes that will definitely "wow" your guests.

How To Cook Pasta

By following these simple directions and tips, you will be able to prepare pasta that is cooked to perfection.

Directions:

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water.
  2. Bring water to a boil and add salt. Do not add the salt before the water boils because it could pit in your pot. Add a lot of salt to the water as soon as it boils. Don't be afraid to add a lot of salt. The pasta will absorb as much as it needs and the salt will provide extra flavor.
  3. Measure the pasta you need (generally a one pound box will serve four as a main entree). Also, keep in mind that pasta often doubles in size when cooked so one cup uncooked will result in two cups of cooked pasta.
  4. Add the pasta to the boiling water. If you are cooking long pasta, bend the pasta into the water and around the inside of the pot. You should never break the pasta to fit into the pot.
  5. Stir the pasta to keep it from sticking together and regulate the heat so that the water doesn't foam over the sides of the pot.
  6. Taste the pasta to make sure that it is done cooking. Pasta boxes usually suggest a cooking time but it's really up to your taste. When the pasta is done to your liking, drain it in a colander and shake off excess water.
  7. Rinse with water only if you are preparing a cold pasta dish like pasta salad. Do not rinse the pasta if you are preparing a warm pasta dish.
  8. Toss the sauce into the pasta and serve.

Tips:

  • Cover your pot of water to bring it to a boil faster. Do not cover the pot while the pasta is cooking.
  • Never mix different types of pasta in one pot because the cook times may vary.
  • Carefully watch the cook time. Pasta can overcook very quickly and there's nothing worse than gooey, sticky pasta.
  • To keep the pasta from sticking after cooking, toss a little sauce or butter into the pasta to keep it nice and fresh.
  • When cooking fresh pasta, use the same technique that you use to cook dried pasta but reduce the cook time by 2-3 minutes because fresh pasta is more delicate.
  • When cooking frozen pasta, add it to boiling water, adjust the heat to maintain a rolling boil and remove the pasta when it floats to the top of the water.

What's your favorite pasta dish? What tricks do you use when cooking pasta?

Jen Tilley has an insatiable appetite for all things related to baking and cooking. She is the author, photographer and recipe developer on How To: Simplify, a blog that shares tips, tricks and recipes to simplify life in the kitchen. She enjoys sharing recipes that require very few ingredients and only a small amount of prep and cook time, all of which make time spent in the kitchen simple and enjoyable. Find her online at How To: Simplify and @HowToSimplify.

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