How to Cook Pasta Perfectly in 5 Easy Steps
Pasta is a busy cook’s lifeline, which is why it is so important to learn how to cook it correctly. Don’t worry: no fussy techniques here. Just five easy steps to pasta bliss.
Also, this technique includes a trick that helps pasta sauce adhere better — a major bonus.
And more! HOW TO COOK PASTA AHEAD OF TIME
How to Cook Pasta Perfectly
Bring a large stockpot (ideally one with a perforated insert) of heavily salted water to a full rolling boil. Use 1 tablespoon of salt per 1 gallon of water per 1 pound of pasta (you can reduce the salt if necessary for health reasons). DO NOT add oil to the water.
Add pasta, stir, then begin measuring cooking time. Cook pasta 2 to 3 minutes fewer than indicated on the package.
Drain, being sure to reserve a good deal of pasta cooking water and not to rinse the pasta. If using a pot with a perforated insert, pull the insert out and leave the pot with the cooking water on the stove. Otherwise, scoop the pasta out of the pot with a perforated pasta scoop. If you don’t have either a pasta insert or scoop, use a mug to carefully scoop out a cupful of cooking water before draining the pasta in a colander.
Make sure that your sauce is in a large skillet and, once hot, add the freshly cooked/drained pasta. If you’re scooping the pasta directly from the water into the skillet, allow some of the cooking water to drip into the skillet too.
Toss pasta to coat and then add 1 to 2 ladles of cooking water (depending on the thickness of your sauce and how much water has already made it into the skillet). Toss more to bring all of the flavors together. Remove the sauced pasta from the heat before adding cheese and finish with a drizzle of high quality olive oil.
To prep pasta up to five days ahead of time, check out my directions for how to pre-cook pasta.