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How to cook Long Pasta (spaghetti, linguine, etc.)
1. Pasta must always be cooked in abundant salted water. The proportion should be 1 1/2 quart (approximately 1 1/2 liters) of water for 3 4 oz (100 gr) of dry pasta.
Use a large, tall stockpot. Bring to a boil the water necessary to cook the desired amount of pasta. Add the salt only after the water begins boiling. Salty water boils at a higher temperature, therefore taking a longer time. Add to the water about 1 teaspoon of salt per quart. The amount may vary depending on personal taste. If you donĄ¯t add salt to the water the pasta will taste very insipid and there will be a lot of contrast with the sauce that is salted. No Italian forgets to salt the pasta water!
2. Keep the pasta vertically over the boiling water and drop the pasta into the pot.
3. In few seconds the pasta will start softening. Using a long fork start pushing the pasta in the water until is fully submerged.
At this point the temperature of the water has fallen and it is not boiling anymore.
4. Place the lid on the pot and turn heat to high to bring the water back to a fast boil.
When the water comes to a fast boil again and the pot is covered, the steam will push the lid up and the water will splash out of the pot! You have to be there and remove the lid to continue cooking the pasta uncovered. It is dangerous to leave the pot unattended. The splashing water can easily extinguish the flame and the gas would freely come out of the burner.
5. Continue cooking the pasta uncovered. Mix with a long fork in order to keep the pasta pieces separate from each other. Adjust the flame to keep the water boiling but preventing it from splashing out of the pot.
6. Read the manufacturerĄ¯s instructions printed on the envelope for cooking time, but donĄ¯t trust them. The best thing to do is taste a little piece from time to time to test for readiness. Bite a little piece and you can tell if the core of the pasta is still whitish the pasta is not ready yet.
Testing will give you an idea of the time left to a perfect al dente pasta.
The expression al dente in Italian refers to the correct cooking point of pasta. Literally it means, when it is right for the tooth, that is, soft but firm, and never overcooked.
Before draining reserve some of the cooking water if the recipe requires it. If you are using a dry type of dressing you may want to add some of the water back into the mixing bowl.
7. Place the colander in the sink in a secure position. When the pasta is ready, turn the heat off. Grab the pot firmly: DonĄ¯t forget that most of the accidents in the house happen in the kitchen. Make sure nobody is in your way to the sink: Watch for the kids!
8. Add a little cold tap water to the pot to stop the cooking process: About 1/2 glass is enough. In fact, pasta keeps cooking even after you drain it. Also, this way the pasta will not be extremely hot when served. Make sure the recipe allows cooling the pasta. Some recipes require for the pasta to be very hot. You are not washing the pasta here! DonĄ¯t overdue it!
9. Carefully drain the pasta.
10. Shake the colander to drain the pasta thoroughly, unless the recipe indicates otherwise.
11. Pour the pasta into a bowl of adequate size. Add the dressing or sauce, toss it well, add cheese if indicated by the recipe, and serve immediately.