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5 Tips for Perfect Pasta

  • Pasta in Italy is served al dente, or β€œto the tooth.” To see if it's cooked perfectly, pull a piece from the boiling water, break it in half and look at its middle. If you still see traces of white (the uncooked flour), it needs a little more time.
  • Use the right pasta for the job. Pair short pasta shapes like rigatoni, penne and fusilli with chunkier sauces featuring meat or vegetables. The ridges and holes will hold the sauce better than longer strands of spaghetti.
  • Long strands of pasta work best with certain sauces. Pair longer cuts of pasta like spaghetti, fettuccini and linguini with smooth sauces like alfredo, aglio olio (garlic and oil) or carbonara.
  • Adding oil to separate pasta after it's cooked will cause the sauce to slide right off. Instead, follow box instructions and use as much water as is suggested. The high water-to-pasta ratio keeps pasta moving.

Use every opportunity to add seasoning — even when you're cooking pasta. Salt your water to help flavor bland pasta.