My daughter always reminisces about the instance, where after tasting the pasta she cooked, I pointed out that the water was not boiling fiercely. She was about 10 years old then and cooked spaghetti puttanesca for lunch all by herself.
It’s easy to overcook pasta – even though cooking time for pasta is stipulated on the box. Do you count the time from when the water starts to boil again after pasta is dropped into the water?
I don’t know if you know this, but all pasta is not the same – it is not just the shape that is different. There is a difference in the extrusion process when pasta is manufactured and the indentations on the pasta are bearers of sauce, flavour and taste. I find the made in Italy brands are generally better tasting. Whether you choose regular, wholemeal, gluten free or lentil pasta, here are my rules for cooking the best boxed pasta.
Choose a large, light pot like a stock pot.
Season your pasta water with salt.
Never add oil to the pasta water – it is simply a waste of good oil.
Add your pasta when water is bubbling fiercely.
Serve pasta al dente – while it still has a bite.
Drain your pasta before it gets to the al dente stage – it continues to cook a little after you drain.
Have your colander ready to go in the sink. I also find a spider sieve useful if you want to add pasta straight into the sauce.
Save a cup of pasta water to thin your sauce – the starch in the water helps bind your sauce to the pasta.
Do not let your pasta sit in the colander for any length of time – have your sauce ready so you can drop hot pasta into hot sauce.
Never ever rinse cooked pasta.