In Italy, the expression al dente describes perfectly cooked pasta!
This means that it’s cooked, but still firm. The opposite expression is “scotta”, that describes overcooked, sticky and softish pasta.
Use a deep, heavy pan to boil water. Use a liter of water every 100grams of pasta you need to cook. Generally the individual portion is 100-120 grams for dry pasta, and 180-200 grams for filled pasta.
Do not add salt until water bubbles up.
Add in the same moment all the pasta in bubbling salted water. Maybe it will ceases to boil, so you will need to high the temperature.
If cooking spaghetti and you do not have the right, tall pan called “spaghettiera”, press the edges with a wooden spoon until they are all submerged with water.
Do not brake spaghetti, only kiddos eat broken spaghetti.
Check the cooking time on the pasta pack: any size and shape requires different cooking times. The right cooking time is labeled on the box.
Stir the pasta from time to time, otherwise pieces will stick together. Somebody puts a teaspoon of oil in the water to help pieces stay apart.
A minute before cooking time is ended, pick a piece of pasta from the water, allow a few seconds for it to cool and take a bite. You should be able to bite through the pasta, and no differences of color must be evident between the outside and the inner side of the piece.
Dried pasta must be drained, not strained. Doesn’t sound as well as James Bond’ s Martini shaken not stirred? I mean that you have to discard the liquid using a huge colander, and keep the pasta. Fresh pasta, filled pasta and gnocchi, on the contrary have to be strained as soon as they come up floating in bubbling water. This is because these shapes of pasta are really delicate and the would not survive the trauma of being grained…
Do not leave the pasta in the colander for too much, but serve it immediately, with its sauce.
Keeping the pasta firm is really important, not only because it enhances the taste of your Italian dish, or because pasta al dente has a lower glycemic index than pasta that is cooked soft, but because of reasons that deal with family peace and self-gratification and as many in the house will refuse to eat if not al dente.
It’s a great deal, trust me!