Complete pasta guide: pasta pro


Become a pasta pro
Make perfect noodles every time

By Heather Trim
First published in’s February 2003 issue.

© Rogers Publishing Ltd.

Perfect pasta tips

For great pasta every time, fill a large saucepan with lots of water, about 20 cups (5 L) for every pound (500 g) of pasta. Add about 1 tablespoon (15 mL) salt to water as soon as it reaches a rolling boil. Do not add oil to water as it only makes pasta slippery and difficult for the sauce to cling.

Add all of the pasta at once to the boiling water. Stir with a wooden spoon to gently submerge and separate the pasta. Cover saucepan to quickly return water to a boil. As soon as this happens, uncover and boil pasta vigorously, stirring occasionally, over high heat.

Timing is key. Pasta should be cooked al dente, or tender but with a hint of firmness. Use cooking times on the package as a guideline, but begin testing if it seems done a couple of minutes before suggested times. Remember, pasta will continue to cook until it’s drained. Dried pasta takes from 5 to 12 minutes to cook; fresh pasta from 1 to 4 minutes.

Drain pasta into a colander set in the sink. Vigorously shake the colander to remove water, especially if cooking pasta shapes that trap it, such as penne. Rinse pasta with cold water only if using it for a cold salad.

Saucing 101

As soon as pasta is cooked, add sauce and serve. Add drained pasta to pan containing sauce and toss until evenly coated. Or turn pasta into a large, warm serving bowl, top with sauce and then gently toss. Fresh pasta absorbs more sauce than dried pasta.

How much?

To serve 4 people, use the following amounts of dried pasta:

• Spaghetti or fettuccine: 450-g pkg, about a 2-inch (5-cm) bunch
• Penne or macaroni: 4 cups (1 L)
• Fusilli: 5 cups (1.25 L)


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