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How to Cook Pasta Perfectly

How to Cook Pasta Perfectly

Avoid these common pasta pitfalls

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Not only is a big bowl of pasta one of the most satisfying dishes to make, but it’s also super easy to prepare. Whether you cook pasta every week or once a year, there are a few tricks that will ensure your pasta tastes delicious every time.

Mistake: Using a small pot

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Using a smaller pot will cook the pasta faster, right? Wrong. Using a too-small pot will crowd the spaghetti, making the end result a clumpy, gummy and unevenly cooked mess. Once added, the pasta will significantly drop the temperature of the water in the pot. For every pound of pasta, make sure to use at least 5 quarts of water in order to give it the space that it deserves.

Mistake: Starting with hot water

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You might think that starting with hot water in your pasta pot will reduce the time it takes to boil. In actuality, whether you start with hot or cold water, that watched pot will take about the same amount of time to come to a boil. This is because cold water absorbs heat faster than hot water. Once the water is hot, the heating rate slows down, so the advantage of starting with hot water is negligible.

Mistake: Not salting the water

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So many people consider adding salt to the water an optional step. If you learned any cooking tips from your parents, though, it should have been that salt is crucial to bringing out the flavor and improving the texture of the pasta. In addition to adding flavor, the salt prevents the pasta from becoming slimy while cooking. So, how much salt should be added? You should add about 2 tablespoons of salt for every 5 quarts of water.

Mistake: Adding oil to the water

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You’ve probably heard that adding olive oil to the water when cooking your pasta will prevent the pasta from sticking to itself. In reality, you can cook clump-free pasta if you just cook it in a large pot of rapidly boiling water.

Mistake: Adding the pasta before the water boils

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You may have been tempted to add the pasta to the pot just as the first bubble appears on the surface of the water, but you should wait until the water is at a rolling boil. The pasta will drop the temperature of the water, and the longer the pasta sits in water that isn’t boiling, the more likely it is that your pasta will turn out clumpy.

Mistake: Not stirring the pasta

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Once the pasta is dropped into the water, the boiling will slow for the next minute or two. To keep the pasta from sticking during this time, it is important to stir the pasta until the water comes back to a rolling boil.

Mistake: Not using enough water

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Use plenty of water when boiling. If your noodles have nowhere to go, it will be easier for them to stick together, causing clumpy noodles. Remember the 5-quart-per-pound rule — it’ll be easier to cook longer noodles like spaghetti and angel hair when there is enough water to submerge them.

Mistake: Over-cooking your pasta

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If you’ve ever felt uncomfortable after eating a bowl of pasta you made, it could be because the noodles were overcooked. Al dente pasta has a lower glycemic index than more-cooked pasta, meaning it’ll be digested gradually and won’t be as likely to cause a high spike in blood sugar. Overcooked noodles are much more saturated and could cause the dough to become sticky and hard to digest. If you’re having digestive issues, might we suggest adding some of these gut-healthy foods to your pasta?

Mistake: Tossing your pasta down the garbage disposal

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If you messed up your pasta, use the garbage can, not the garbage disposal. Dry noodles slightly expand when they are hydrated by water, and they’ll continue to do so when they’re washed down the sink. Additionally, the garbage disposal will mash rather than chop the wet noodles up, causing them to form a doughy paste that can clog your drain.

Mistake: Thinking sauce can take the place of other ingredients

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When a pasta dish calls for lots of ingredients, adding more sauce to make up for not having some of the ingredients could detract from the overall taste of the meal. If it means running to the grocery store to grab some freshly grated parmesan, it’ll be worth it.

Mistake: Cooking too much of it

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If you’re usually one to dump half the box of fettuccine in or fill the bottom of the pot with ziti because you’re never sure how much to make, this will be your new favorite tip. Barilla recommends about 2 1/8 inches in circumference of long dried noodles (spaghetti, linguine, fettuccine and angel hair) to make about 1 cup of cooked pasta. For farfalle and rigatoni, 3/4 of a cup of dried noodles will make 1 1/4 cups cooked. Half a cup of dried elbow or rotini will also make 1 1/4 cups cooked, whereas 2/3 of a cup of penne or ziti will make 1 1/4 cups cooked. And if you do make too much, there are great ways to use leftovers.

Mistake: Only buying generic

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While buying generic pasta is a good way to save money, if you really want to make dinner in feel like dinner out, splurge and buy noodles you find in an Italian deli or fresh noodles from the refrigerated aisle at the grocery store.

Mistake: Leaving it in the pot instead of straining

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Even if you turn the heat off, leaving your pot on a hot burner without straining the pasta will continue to cook the noodles and over-saturate them. The result might be a mushy spaghetti mess.

Mistake: Not storing dry noodles properly

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Pasta is one of those pantry staples with a long shelf life. If you store it properly — either in an unopened package or in an airtight container — it’ll stay fresh for about two years or more. If your package has been opened or moisture has gotten in, the noodles probably won’t be fresh for cooking.

Mistake: Following a timer rather than texture

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Before we get into how different noodles need different cook times to accommodate their thickness, it’s important to not only follow the box instructions, but to also taste the noodles starting a couple minutes before the package advises to find that perfect al dente. One of the reasons your grandma’s food tasted better? She trusted the process rather than setting a timer.

Mistake: Cooking all types of pasta the same way

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Pasta cooking times can vary by brand, size of the noodle and whether or not the pasta is fresh versus dried. Use the package as a guide for how long to cook your pasta.

Mistake: Leaving the pasta in the colander

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If you usually pop your strainer in the sink, dump the pasta into it and then walk away to finish cooking other parts of the meal, don’t. A little water on the pasta will help to keep the noodles from clumping, and the starchy water will add body to your sauce.

Mistake: Rinsing the pasta after cooking

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There is no need to rinse your noodles after cooking. In fact, rinsing the pasta is a bad cooking habit you should stop now. It will wash away the starches that help the sauces stick, as well as the flavor you worked to produce by salting the water. However, if you are using something like penne for a cold pasta salad, you will need to rinse it to prevent any sticking as it cools.

How to cook pasta

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First, cook the sauce

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Prepare the sauce while you wait for the pasta water to come to a boil. Cooking sauce first, pasta second will allow the herbs and flavors in the sauce to be more deeply concentrated as they simmer and the sauce will become thicker.

Then, cook the noodles

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Leaving your pasta in the colander while you cook the sauce only gives your pasta time to stick and dry out. So, while your sauce is simmering, cook your noodles.

How long to cook angel hair

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Angel hair, also called capellini d'angelo, is a fine noodle. It pairs well with light sauces and cooks in about four to five minutes.

How long to cook penne

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Penne pasta is shaped in a way that’s great for chunkier sauces like a thick meat sauce or cream-based sauce. It will cook in about 11 to 12 minutes.

How long to cook spaghetti

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Spaghetti — or pasghetti, if you’re cooking with kids — is a classic that goes with any sauce and cooks in nine to 10 minutes.

How long to cook rotini

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Whether you prefer a dairy, tomato or oil-based sauce, rotini are twisted noodles that hold sauces well. They cook in seven to eight minutes.

How long to cook farfalle

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While the translation means butterfly, farfalle noodles might remind you of bow ties. No matter whether you prefer them in a warm, light sauce or cool in a pasta salad, cook these noodles for 11 to 12 minutes.

Keep in mind that whole grain also cooks differently

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Because whole-wheat pasta is made with 100% whole wheat, it cooks differently than noodles made with semolina. Compared to regular penne, whole-wheat penne cooks in nine to 10 minutes.

Reserve pasta water for the sauce

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Finish the pasta in the sauce

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There are many pasta dishes that makeperfect home-cooked meals, but only if you follow the next couple steps. Drain your pasta when it is still a minute or two away from al dente perfection and let it finish cooking in the sauce. Doing this will allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce and the end result will be tastier and more full of flavor than if you just dump sauce over some plain pasta.

Add pasta water and butter

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Once you’ve finished the pasta in the sauce, add a little bit of the pasta water back into the pan, along with a knob of butter. Shake up the pan a bit and you’ll end up with a gloriously saucy, emulsified and perfectly delicious plate of pasta.

How much sauce should you use?

OksanaKiian/iStock/Getty Images Plus


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.


How To Cook Perfect Pasta

Read all of our helpful tips and learn how to cook perfect pasta every time!

How To Purchase Dried Pasta:


Read the label when buying dried pasta
– The best pasta is made of 100% semolina (the label will say durum – wheat semolina or semolia). Pasta made from durum wheat retain their shape and firmness while cooking. When cooked properly they do not get mushy or sticky. Pasta that are not made with semolina produce a softer noodle and will not hold up well when tossing. Use these pastas for casserole-style dishes.

Noodles are the only pasta products made with egg solids which give them a more intense color than other pasta.

You may substitute for another type of pasta in recipes but if you want to use another type, remember that as a general rule, it is best to substitute one pasta type with another of similar characteristics. It is important to match the shapes of pasta to the sauce. Flat pastas are best with thin sauces other shapes have nooks and crannies to catch pieces of chunkier sauces.

Italian brands of pasta, in general, are thicker than the American brands.

How To Measure Pasta – Pasta Equivalents:

Most dried pasta doubles in volume when cooked. For accuracy, measure pasta by weight rather than by cup. Cooked pasta can be measured by volume. The general rule is one pound of dry pasta or freshly made pasta will serve six as an appetizer or four as a main course. Remember – Shapes may vary in size according to the manufacturer, so use these measurements as generalizations.

The easiest way to measure pasta is to use your digital scale.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (elbow macaroni, shells, rotini, cavatelli, wheels, penne, or ziti) = 1 cup dried pasta = 2 1/2 cups cooked pasta.

4 ounces of uncooked pasta (spaghetti, angel hair, vermicelli, fettuccine or linguine) = a 1-inch diameter bunch of dry pasta = 2 cups cooked pasta.

How To Cook Perfect Pasta:


Important Rule: Pasta should be prepared just before serving it.

Use a Large Pot:

To cook perfect pasta you will need to use a lot of water. A too-small pot and too little water encourages the pasta to clump and stick together, thus cooking unevenly.

For a pound (16 ounces) of pasta, you will want a pot that holds at least 5 or 6 quarts of water.

Use plenty of water and use only COLD or COOL Water:

Using plenty of water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together by quickly washing away the exuded starch.

If your water contains any impurities, it will taint the finished flavor of the pasta. Filter your home water if possible.

Fill that big pot 3/4 full of COLD water or use at least one quart of cold water for every four ounces of dry pasta. Four quarts is a bare minimum per 12-ounce package of pasta, six to eight quarts is ideal. The reason for this is that hot water will dissolve anything (including contaminants like lead) much more easily than cold water and if that water encounters something like an older leaded pipe or some rust before coming out in your kitchen sink, it could very well end up in your glass. The most common problem is water that has been sitting in your home pipes for over 6 hours.

Bring the pot of cold water to a fast boil:

Covering the pot of cold water with a lid will help bring the water to a boil faster.

Salting the water makes pasta taste better by bringing out the natural flavor of the pasta. This does not increase the sodium level of your recipes. NOTE: I always use kosher (coarse) salt.

Do not add your salt until the water has come to a full boil. There are two reasons for this:

1. First, unsalted water has a lower boiling point than salted water, so it will come to a boil a few seconds faster.

2. Second and more important, salt dissolves faster in hot water. Un-dissolved salt crystals in cold water can mar the surface of your stainless-steel pots with small white dots or pits.

Add plenty of salt, about 2 tablespoons of kosher (coarse) salt per pound of pasta. This may seem like a lot, but it is necessary for getting the pasta properly seasoned. Plus, most of the salt drains off with the water. If you taste the salted water, it should resemble “sea water.” NOTE: If you are on a sodium restricted diet, please follow your doctor’s orders before adding salt.

Do NOT add oil of any kind. Oil has the unwanted effect of coating the pasta and making it slick so the sauce will not stick to it.

Adding the dried pasta:

Add the pasta, all at once, to the boiling salted water, and keep the heat high to bring the water back to the boil as quickly as possible. NOTE: Never mix pasta types in one pot.

Explanation or Science of Boiling Water: Pasta added to water before it starts to boil gets a heat start on mushiness. Pasta quickly begins to break down in tepid water as the starch dissolves. You need the intense heat of boiling water to “set” the outside of the pasta, which prevents the pasta from sticking together. That is why the fast boil is so important the water temperature drops when you add the pasta, but if you have a fast boil, the water will still be hot enough for the pasta to cook properly.

Stir at the beginning – After you add the pasta to the boiling water, stir with a long wooden spoon (stirring prevents pasta from sticking to each other and from sticking to the bottom and the edge of pan). Frequent stirring with a long wooden spoon or fork while the pasta is cooking will help the pasta to cook

Cook the pasta, uncovered, at a fast boil. NOTE: Once you have added your pasta, do not cover the pot with a lid . You can regulate the heat so the pasta/water mixture does not foam up and over the pot sides. Lower it the tiniest bit, and everything should be under control.

Cooking Time:

Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time (this is only a guideline). Start timing when the water returns to a boil. Most pastas cook in 8 to 12 minutes.

Test dry pasta for doneness after about 4 minutes of cooking by tasting it. It is difficult to give exact cooking times since different shapes andthickness of pasta will take less or more time to cook.

Watch the cooking process of the pasta carefully. Pasta can overcook very quickly. Pasta should be tender but still firm when you eat it, what the Italians call “al dente.” To be sure, bite into a piece of the pasta (take a piece of pasta from the pan, cut off a tiny piece, and chew it in your mouth). REMEMBER – Pasta will continue to cook and soften even after it has been taken from the water.

Definition of “al dente” (ahl-DEN-tay): In Italian the phrase means “to the tooth” and is a term used to describe the correct degree of doneness when cooking pasta, risotto, and vegetables. The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard center.

Fulvia Guyger’s Italian tip for stopping cooking time: Once pasta has reached the “al dente” stage, immediately turn off your gas heat or remove the pot from the heat if using electric heat. Add approximately 1/2 to 1 cup COLD water to the hot water with the pasta. This will immediately lower the temperature of the water and stop the cooking.

How to Cook Perfect Pasta For Baked Dishes: Because the pasta is cooked twice (boiled first and then combined with other ingredients and cooked in the oven), pasta in baked dishes should boil less time than normal. Boil until just flexible but still quite firm (usually about a 1/3 of the normal cooking time). To test, cut into a piece.

Drain immediately:

Drain immediately into a large colander standing in the sink, and then pick up the colander with its contents and shake it well to remove excess water.

Do NOT rinse unless the recipe says to do so. The starch that makes the pasta stick to itself also helps the sauce stick to the pasta. If you are going to toss the pasta with the sauce immediately, sticking should not be a problem.

Important: Once your pasta is ready, turn off the heat and scoop out 1 cup of pasta cooking water and set aside. This reserved pasta water contains essential starch that can be used later to adjust the consistency of your sauce, from thickening it to thinning it. This soupy looking water you used to throw down the drain is actually a miracle ingredient!

Never, Never Over Drain Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Except when saucing with thin or brothy sauces such as fresh tomato or seafood, pasta needs to be moist to combine well. As soon as it is drained, remove it from the colander and place it either back in the cooking pan to keep warm to toss it with the sauce, or place it in a preheated serving dish or individual preheated serving bowls. Once the pasta is in the pan or bowl, use a fork and spoon and quickly toss it with the sauce.

Do NOT Rinse Pasta:

EXCEPTION: Do rinse the wide pasta, such as lasagna noodles. If you don’t, you will have a hard time separating the noodles without tearing them.

Also rinse when making a cold pasta salad. The thin coat of starch on the pasta will be sticky when cold.

Do Not Drown Pasta:


Never over sauce pasta
. Italians complain that Americans drown their pasta in too much sauce. The Italians way is to toss pasta with just enough sauce to coat it without leaving a big puddle on the bottom of the plate.

Warming A Serving Bowl: Pour some hot water into it and let stand until ready to use. Then pour out the water and dry the bowl. Warm plates by putting theminto a 250 degree F. oven for 10 to 15 minutes just before serving.

Reheating Pasta: Microwave the pasta in the storage container on HIGH for 1 to 3 minutes, tossing the pasta halfway through. The length of time in the microwave depends on how much pasta you have. You can also reheat the pasta by putting it in a colander and running very hot water over it. Be sure to drain the pasta well before putting on sauce.

Making Pasta Ahead: Cook the pasta as usual, being particularly careful to cook it only until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold running waterto stop the cooking, and again drain thoroughly. Let pasta cool completely, then toss with a couple of teaspoons of oil so it will not stick together. Pasta can be stored in a plastic bag or in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Pasta Etiquette:

The perfect method for eating spaghetti or other long stringy pasta is to twirl it around your fork. Use a spoon to help if needed. It is also acceptable to cut pasta with a knife and fork. You can get some leverage by turning the pasta while holding the tines of your fork against the edge of your plate. It is even correct to neatly cut the pasta if twirling is too hard.

What is undeniably bad manners is slurping in a mouthful of trailing pasta without benefit of twirl or knife. It is often loud, and it is never pretty.

If possible, serve warm pasta in warm, shallow bowls instead of on dinner plates. The sides of the bowl aids in turning pasta noodles on the fork.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the ordinary people ate spaghetti with their hand. When the fork was invented, pasta became food fit for royalty as well, because they could now eat it without a loss of dignity. The Italians say that a character of a man can be determined by the way he eats spaghetti.

Check out Restaurant and Dinner Party Manners and Etiquette: Dining Etiquette Guide.
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.