Preparation time: 1 minute
Cooking time: 6 - 9 minutes
Serves: 1-12 or more
Dietary guidance: v v
Large cooking pot
1 Tablespoon Salt
Wooden or plastic stirring spoon
This is a basic description for how to prepare spaghetti, but this same process works for virtually all other pasta as well. The only difference is that different kinds of pasta have different cooking times. Everything else will be the same.
Of course the obvious first step is to get a large pot and fill it almost full of fresh cold water. Don't use hot water from the tap, since many households' hot water system may have minerals and salts in the water that you won't want to cook your pasta in. Fill the pot until it is about an inch or two (3-5 cm) from the top. You want to provide your pasta with plenty of room to cook in the water without getting crowded, which will help prevent them from getting stuck together.
Then place the pot on the stove on high heat. Add the salt to the water. The salt helps cook the pasta faster, and adds flavor to the noodles.
Splash some olive oil in the pot. You want to have a nice coating of olive oil over the entire surface of the water. There are several reasons for using olive oil when cooking pasta: 1) it adds flavor, 2) it keeps the noodles from sticking together, and 3) it helps keep the pot from boiling over too much.
After the water has come to a full boil, reduce the heat to medium high and add the pasta. Use a WOODEN spoon (plastic may be used, too) to bend the noodles as they become soft, and fold them into the boiling water. Then stir the bottom of the pot to make sure no pasta is sticking to it. There is no need to cover the pot while the pasta is boiling.
Every minute or two, stir the pot, making sure to separate any clumps of noodles that are sticking together, and scraping the bottom of the pot where noodles may stick.
Now comes the most critical part. After about 5 minutes or so, begin to start testing the noodles for softness. Everyone has his or her own preference for noodle softness, but all true pasta lovers would agree that the noodles should not be too soft. Many people prefer their pasta to have a slight chewiness to it, which is called "al dente" (of the tooth) in Italian. The factor that makes pasta al dente or too soft is how long the noodles are allowed to boil. If you boil the pasta for a short time, you'll have chewier noodles than if you boil them for a long time. Forget about the urban legend of testing whether your pasta is ready by throwing a noodle against the wall to see if it sticks. Instead, take a noodle or two out of the pot, blow on it to cool it off, and then test it by chewing on it yourself. When it is just ever so slightly underdone for your tastes, take the pot off the stove.
Drain the pot into a collander in the sink. Then splash a generous amount of olive oil over the noodles while stirring them. Still stirring, put the collander of noodles under the faucet and briefly rinse them off under the water. This process will help the noodles so they will not stick.
Voila! Perfect pasta!