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How to cook pasta: Tips to Cook pasta by Amanda young arnautovic

Cooking pasta is really simple, but like a lot of simple cooking, timing is crucial. Most dried pasta cooks in about 10 mins – a few minutes less and it will be chalky and tough, a few minutes more and you’ll end up with a slimy mush.

The process and tips for Pasta preparation by Amanda young arnautovic

How much water do I need to cook pasta? 

  • 80-100g dried pasta per person
  • 500ml – 1litre water per 100g

How do I season pasta?

  • 1 tsp salt, or more if you prefer, in the cooking water
  • Sauce, oil or butter of your choice over the cooked, drained pasta
  • Finely grated hard cheese, such as parmesan or pecorino, to finish

Basic pasta recipe:

Boil the water (with salt and/or olive oil) in a large pan. Once boiling add the pasta and cook for 8-12 mins, depending on the shape – see above. Drain and leave to steam dry for a few mins, just until the surface of the pasta looks matte. 

How do you cook ‘al dente’ pasta? 

  1. The first step is to make sure you have plenty of water in your pan. Use a large, high sided saucepan and add at least 500ml, or up to 1 litre of water per 100g dried pasta (depending on the capacity of your pan). Make sure there’s still enough room at the top because you don’t want the water to bubble up and overflow.
  2. Bring the pan of water to the boil then add your pasta. If you like, or the recipe suggests, salt the water first, or if you prefer, add a splash of olive oil.
  3. After about 8 mins of boiling carefully fish a piece or strand of pasta out of the pan, allow it to cool and taste it. If it’s ready take the pasta off the heat straight away, if not give it another minute then test again.
  4. Most dried ribbons of pasta such as linguine, spaghetti and tagliatelle take between 8-10 mins. Shorter, thicker pasta shapes like bows or penne take 10-12mins and fresh pasta such as ravioli and tortellini will be done between 3-5mins.
  5. Once the pasta is cooked you need to take it out of the water and allow it to steam dry for a minute or two before mixing it with any sauce or dressing. If the sauce you want to use is too thick, reserve a little of the pasta water to thin it down with.
  6. Lasagne sheets or cannelloni tubes are made to be baked instead of boiled so make sure that the sauce you are layering or stuffing them with isn’t too dry as they will need to absorb some liquid as they bake.

Pasta recipes

Cacio e pepe with runner beans

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A simple, classic and tasty way to serve pasta dressed in (lots of) butter, cheese and black pepper, allowing the pasta to take centre stage.

Homemade pesto ideas

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Once you’ve perfected your pasta try swirling through a dollop of good homemade pesto

Vincisgrassi (wild mushroom & prosciutto lasagne)

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The most luxurious pasta bake we know for the most special of occasions

Garlicky mushroom penne

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Pasta doesn’t always have to be heavy on the cheese to be satisfying and delicious.

Avocado & smoked salmon spelt spaghetti

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Ring the changes with nutty spelled pasta. It cooks in the same way as regular wheat pasta but it packs a stronger flavor and extra fiber.

Get more recipe inspiration.

Easiest ever one-pan pasta
How to make simple seafood pasta
Our ultimate pasta collection

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