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Cooking Perfect Pasta

First let me say, these tips are for dried pasta not fresh. Contrary to what you may think, I do love dried pasta, and usually use Barilla, unless I have Pasta Mancini, which is usually only found in specialty stores, is more expensive, but so good. I don’t know who made up the rumor that you should put oil in your water but do NOT! It makes the sauce slide right off your pasta.

Use a large pot so you can add a lot of water. You want five or six quarts of water for a standard 16 oz. package of pasta. When you’re hungry and want to eat in record time, you might be tempted to use less water, so it boils quicker. Don’t. Just like pasta needs a roomy pot, it needs plenty of water to totally submerge every strand.

Here’s a tip for making the water boil faster. Put a lid on the pot, but keep it partially uncovered so you’ll hear when the water starts to boil. Leaving a gap will also help keep the water from boiling over before you turn it down.

Salt it generously! Don’t just give a single tap of the shaker — you want at least a tablespoon for 6 quarts of water. In fact, chefs typically use 2 tablespoons of coarse salt for every 6 quarts of water! The salty water is essential because it boosts the pasta’s flavor.

You want a vigorous boil. Remember, the pasta is going to cool down the temperature of the water once you drop it in.

Don’t stray from the stove! Stay close and stir the pot at least two or three times during cooking. Don’t let the strands clump. They should swirl, unencumbered and free.

Start checking the pasta’s doneness on the earlier range of the time frame. Fish out a single strand of pasta. Let it cool, then bite into it. Regardless of what you hear and see, throwing it against the wall is NOT the way to test to see if it’s done. My grands always love to be the pasta taste testers!

Save a cup of the pasta water. This starchy water can work wonders in sauces, either to bind the sauce and pasta together, or to thin down thicker sauces so they’ll coat the noodles.

Place a colander in the kitchen sink and drain your pasta. Put the drained pasta back into the pot with sauce (or into the saucepan if the sauce is still cooking and the pan is large enough), add your pasta water, and toss to evenly coat.

Serve piping hot and of course with ALOT of fresh grated cheese!

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