How to Cook Pasta and Get It Right Every Time

Making pasta is not simply just boiling water, as anyone who has ever had an overcooked, glumpy, sticky pasta will tell you. Not being a Latin and with absolutely no Latin blood to be found in my family, I do not have the innate insight of a native Italian when it comes to making really good pasta. I have therefore had to go out of my way to research and practice to get to grips with, what at first glance, appears to be a very simple task. But it can be if you understand a few basics and have a bit of experience and imagination. I may not be as good as the proverbial Italian mama, having made many mistakes over the years, but I think I am getting better and better.

These are the simple steps I have learned over the years: 

Step 1: 

Fill a LARGE pot with water – the pot must be large enough to hold both the pasta and the sauce comfortably

Step 2:

Add a liberal amount of salt to the water just before adding the pasta (about 2-3 tablespoons of course salt or 1-2 tablespoons fine salt) This will assist in flavour development. The Italians say that the pasta water should be as salty as the sea!!

DO NOT add any oil

Step 3: 

When the water has attained a rolling boil, add the pasta in one go. 

It is not necessary to cover the pasta with the pot lid

Step 4:

As soon as you add the pasta to the water, stir it with a long spoon or tongs. This will prevent the pasta from sticking together. You can do this periodically while the pasta is cooking so that the pasta keeps moving and it won‘t clump, but cook evenly.

Step 5:

Test the pasta after a minute or two

Do this by chewing a piece – you don’t need to throw it on the ceiling to test it!!! 

Step 6:

Keep testing. When the pasta is to your preference (al dente; where the inner part of the pasta remains under cooked – a more firm texture is best as it is easier to digest and is a better texture)

Fresh pasta will take between 1-3 minutes; about half the time of dry pasta.

Step 7:

Drain the pasta in a colander – reserve about 2-3 tablespoons of the cooking water 

Step 8:

Add the pasta back into the hot pot with the left over cooking liquid

Step 9:

Pour over the prepared sauce. Mix carefully

Step 10:

Transfer to a warm serving dish – enjoy with friends and family


Not too difficult is it?