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How to Cook Pasta

There is nothing worse than being served pasta that’s cooked to the point of disintegration and drowning in a diluted sauce. Follow these rules for perfectly cooked pasta.

For a starter portion, 80g of dried pasta or 90g of fresh pasta per person is sufficient. For a main course, serve between 100 to 120g of dried pasta or 120 to 140g of fresh paste depending on how ravenous you are!

How to Cook PastaTypes of Pasta

It is essential to cook pasta in a large, roomy pot with plenty of water. While the pasta cooks, it absorbs water and loses starch. If there isn’t enoughwater, the water will become oversaturated with starch and the pasta will begin to reabsorb it, resulting in unappetizing starch clumps. You also have to salt the water quite heavily as rawa pasta has no added salt. For every 250g of pasta, use at least 2 litres of water and 2 tbsp of salt.

Bring the water to a rolling boil before throwing in the pasta. Give it a quick stir to prevent the pieces from sticking together. If starch molecules from two pieces of pasta become entangled, they will adhere so it’s essential to occasionally stir the pasta with a wooden fork while cooking.

A bowl of pastaIf you are using dried pasta, refer to the instructions on the back of the packet as a guideline as to how long it should be cooked. The only reliable test to check if it’s done, is to taste it. Pasta should be cooked al dent, which literally means “to the bite”. The outside of each piece should be tender but you should meet with a little resistance at is centre. If you are cooking fresh pasta, it will only take about 3 to5 minutes. Again, to test for readiness, simply bite into a piece.

Once the pasta is ready, drain it immediately, saving some of the cooking water to moisten the pasta if it becomes too dry.

Dress the pasta with just enough sauce so that each piece is well coated, tossing it well to evenly distribute the sauce. One of the cardinal rules of preparing paste is that it should swim in sauce. If it seems a little dry, moisten with some of the reserved cooking water.


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Last Modified: 11/28/11.