I haven't been doing much cooking unfortunately - too much work and too little free time. However, pasta is always a simple and easy dish to make. Here are some dos and don'ts about one of my favourite foods.
Use a large pot that holds at least 7 quarts. The lighter the pot, the better; the water will come to a boil faster than with a heavy stockpot. ALWAYS return to a boil quickly after you add the pasta.
Salt the water once it comes to a boil. The seasoning will give the pasta an essential flavor boost. For every pound of pasta, figure on 2 tablespoons of salt and 6 quarts of water.
Stir the pasta right after you add it to the water and then occasionally throughout the cooking time to prevent clumping. I always add a tablespoon of oil - it seems to prevent the pasta sticking although I have read somewhere that there is no need to do that - force of habit I guess!
Test pasta about 1 minute before the time given on the package instructions. Dried pasta should be cooked through but still firm to the bite - al dente - .Fresh pasta will rise to the surface when it's ready. It should be chewy and have a uniform color throughout.
Don't break pasta to fit it in the pot. Let the ends stick out until the submerged sections soften, about 1 minute. Then stir to bend the pasta and push it underwater.
Don't rinse cooked pasta. It eliminates the starch that helps the sauce adhere; rinsing also cools the pasta. I only rinse the pasta when making a cold pasta salad and don't want the starch to be there.
Types of Pasta
Made semolina flour, water, and salt, dried pasta can be stored at room temperature for a long time.
Many varieties, especially those from Italy, have the flavor and consistency you would find in a trattoria. Imported pasta can usually be bought for only a few cents more than domestic pasta so keep a look out for the Italian type.
Dried pasta's firm texture means it can hold up to even the heartiest sauce.
Most shaped pasta doubles in size when cooked. One pound of dried pasta serves four people generously.
Fresh pasta is more tender than dried, due to the fresh eggs and extra water. It takes about half the time to cook.
Its delicate texture is best with light sauces made with tomatoes, cream, oil, or butter flavored with herbs.
One and a half pounds of fresh pasta serves four people generously.