Pasta Cooking Guide

Boiling | Frying | Stir-Frying | Baking | Reheating
Checking Doneness | Saucing the Pasta | Tips


The basic cooking method most often used for cooking pasta is boiling. There are a few other methods used to cook specific types of pasta and Asian noodles. The other methods used are baking, deep-frying, and stir-frying. Pasta cooking can be accomplished with a minimal amount of equipment. The only pieces of equipment that are necessary are a large pot, a wooden spoon or fork, and a colander. Some other pieces of equipment that may be useful when cooking different types of pasta are a spaghetti server, a slotted spoon, a straining spoon, measuring cups, a wooden spatula, a wok, and a baking dish for baked pasta dishes. Shown below are the most common methods used and basic instructions on each.


Boiling

Boiling is the method most often used for cooking pasta. It is also used in conjunction with some of the other cooking methods, such as stir-frying and baking. When boiling pasta it is important to use a sufficient amount of water, generally a quart of water per 4 ounces of pasta is satisfactory. Using additional water is beneficial in that it is easier to maintain a constant temperature during the cooking period, which allows the pasta to cook more evenly. Most pastas are cooked in the same manner when using the boiling method but some types may vary slightly in some of the processes.

Dried Pasta - 1 Pound

  1. Add at least 4 quarts of water to a large pot. Keep in mind that dried pasta expands quite a bit when it is cooked, so make sure the pot you select to cook your pasta in is large enough. Bring the water to a full boil over high heat. 1 tablespoon of salt should be added to the water as it begins to boil. If the salt is added too soon it can give off an odor, which can affect the taste of the pasta. If it is added immediately before the pasta, the salt may not have enough time to completely dissolve in the water. The salt helps bring out the flavor in the pasta and helps it hold its shape. After the water comes to a full boil, add the pasta.

    Variations:
    Oil in Water - It is sometimes suggested to add a little oil to the cooking water to help prevent the pasta from sticking together. Most experts advise against doing this because the oil will coat the pasta and prevent the sauce from sticking to it. Only use oil when cooking sheets of pasta such as lasagne, which have more of a tendency to stick together.

  2. When the water has reached a full boil, add all the pasta and stir immediately to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Once the pasta is added, the water may cool slightly so it is important to continue to cook on high until the water comes to a full boil again. Then the heat should be turned down slightly but left high enough for the water to maintain a steady boil. Do not cover the pot while cooking the pasta. If pasta is added to water that is not at a full boil, or is cooked at a temperature that does not keep the water at a continuous boil, the pasta will absorb too much of the water and become soft and mushy.

    Variations:
    Long Dried Strands - Long strands of dried pasta, such as spaghetti and linguine, need to be gradually forced into the water as they soften. Hold the strands in one hand and submerge as much of the strands as possible into the boiling water. As the strands start to soften, push them further into the water as quickly as possible until the entire strands are submerged. Stir the strands as they continue to soften to prevent them from sticking together.

  3. To prevent the pasta from sticking and clumping together be sure to use plenty of water, cook at a consistent boil, and stir the pasta a couple of times throughout the cooking time. Be sure to stir to the bottom of the pot so the pasta does not stick to it. Not using enough water and insufficent stirring of the the pasta can also cause gooey pasta.
  4. Check the pasta for doneness a couple of times through the cooking period. Read the package for the suggested cooking time and then be sure to check to see if it is done at least two or three minutes before the suggested time. If not done, continue to check approximately every 30 seconds after that to ensure that it does not overcook. The best way to check for doneness is to remove a piece of pasta from the boiling water and taste test it. It should be cooked to an "al dente" state, which is Italian for "to the tooth." This means the pasta should be tender but still have a slightly firm bite. Do not let the pasta become too soft. The amount of time it takes pasta to cook depends on the ingredients of the pasta, its size, its shape, and its thickness.

    Variations:
    Fresh Pasta - Fresh and homemade pasta take a lot less time to cook than dried pasta. Some types can be done in less than 30 seconds after the pasta comes back to a full boil. It is important to have the colander ready for draining, the sauce ready to be added and serving dishes waiting before adding fresh pasta to boiling water. Start checking for doneness as soon as the water comes back to a full boil. Check for doneness often and do not let it overcook because fresh pasta will become soft and mushy very quickly.
    Pasta for Other Dishes - When cooking pasta that is going to be used in a dish that requires additional cooking, such as lasagne, cannelloni, and casseroles, the pasta should be a little undercook because it will be cooked further in the dish it is used in. Cook the pasta for 2/3 to 3/4 of the suggested cooking time. Also, pasta that is going to be used in a salad should be slightly undercooked. This will help prevent it from absorbing too much moisture from the dressing used on the salad.
    Stuffed Pasta - Stuffed pasta, such as ravioli, should be cooked more gently than most other pastas to prevent the stuffed pasta from splitting apart. Keep the water at a gentle boil while the pasta is cooking. Cooking times will be a little longer with stuffed pastas because of the double layers and the filling.
    Asian Noodles - Most Asian noodles can be cooked using the Chinese method of boiling. This method will take longer than most other methods. The Chinese method begins similar to the standard method of boiling by adding the noodles to a pot of rapidly boiling water. When the noodles come to a full boil again, add 1 cup of cold water. Allow the water to come to a full boil again and add another cup of cold water. When the water boils for the 3rd time, check to see if the noodles are done. If not done, add more cold water and boil again. If the noodles will be added to a stir-fry or soup, they should be removed from the heat while they are still slightly firm, but if they are to be eaten cold, they should be cooked thoroughly.

  5. Have the colander in the sink, ready for draining the pasta, before the pasta is done cooking. When the pasta is done, immediately remove from the heat. Remove and set aside 1 cup of the cooking water to use to thin the sauce if it becomes too thick. Drain the pasta as quickly as possible because it will continue to cook in the hot water. Gently shake the colander to remove most of the excess water. Leaving a little water on the pasta will help keep the pasta from sticking together.

    Variations:
    Stuffed Pasta - Stuffed pasta should be lifted out of the cooking water and placed in the colander, rather than poured into it. This will help prevent the pasta from being damaged or splitting open. Use a slotted spoon or a skimmer to lift the pasta out of the water and place it in the colander to allow excess water to drain off or be blotted off with a paper towel.

  6. Do not rinse the pasta because the starches on its surface will allow the sauce to stick better and rinsing will only cool the pasta down faster. Immediately after draining the pasta, pour it into a bowl and stir in just enough sauce to coat the pasta evenly. Do not over sauce the pasta or the sauce will drown out the pasta's flavor. The pasta can also be added to the sauce in another pan in which the sauce and pasta can be further heated. Be sure that the sauce and pasta are heated just long enough for them to become sufficiently hot. Remove them from the heat as soon as possible otherwise the pasta can become overcooked.

    Variations:
    Rinsing the Pasta - The pasta should be rinsed if it is going to be used in a salad or if it is going to be stored and used at a later date. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Pasta that is going to be used in another dish should also be rinsed in cold water so it does not continue cooking. It should also be drained well to prevent excess water from diluting the dish it is added to.
    Asian Noodles - Asian noodles should be drained and rinsed with cold water to remove starches before they are added to a stir-fry or soup.

  7. Serve the pasta and sauce in a warmed bowl or on a warmed plate. If the pasta is going to be served without a sauce, it should be tossed with approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together when it is served. If you do not want to use olive oil, you can toss the pasta with a little of the cooking water that was set aside.

Frying

Noodles are fried to produce a crisp textured noodle. Frying can be accomplished by the use of two different methods, pan-frying and deep-frying. Both methods work on the principle of using hot oil to fry the noodles.

Pan-Frying: When pan-frying noodles, use a heavy skillet with deep sides. Noodles must be boiled or presoaked before they are fried. Rinse and drain boiled or presoaked noodles. Before frying, place the noodles on a paper towel so they can dry thoroughly.

Pan-Fried Noodles

  1. Have noodles boiled or presoaked and thoroughly dried before pan-frying.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet using medium heat.
  3. Divide the noodles into portion size bunches. Add one to the heated skillet.
  4. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 minutes until first side is light golden brown and then flip to the other side and cook a couple of more minutes until the second side is also browned. The fried noodles form a small cake.
  5. Remove the noodle cake from the skillet and place it on a serving plate.
  6. Repeat the frying process with the remaining noodles.
  7. Keep the noodles warm while preparing the ingredients that will be served with them.

Deep Frying: There are several Asian noodles such as rice vermicelli and bean thread vermicelli (cellophane noodles) that can be deep-fried to produce a crispy noodle to add to salads and other dishes. They are also used as a base for other foods to be placed on. When placed in the hot oil the noodles puff up to almost four times their original size and become crispy.

Deep Fried Noodles

  1. Heat oil, approximately 3 inches in depth, in a wok or deep-fat fryer to 375° or until it is smoking. Vegetable oil or peanut oil can be used.
  2. When oil is properly heated, place the noodles in the hot oil (the noodles should not be presoaked). Within a couple of seconds the noodles will puff up and be slightly browned. Use a slotted spoon to turn the noodles over in the hot oil and cook for a few seconds more, until second side is slightly browned.
  3. Using the slotted spoon, lift the noodles out of the oil and place on a paper towel to allow oil to drain.
  4. Keep in mind that the noodles will puff up to almost four times their size when adding the noodles to the oil. Cook the noodles in small batches to allow for expansion.
  5. When finished deep-frying, the remaining oil can be cooled slightly, strained, placed in a container and stored for later use.


Stir-Frying

Many of the Asian noodles are used in stir-fry dishes. Some Italian noodles, such as spaghetti, vermicelli, and linguine, can be used as substitutions for Asian wheat or egg noodles. Generally the noodles used for stir-frying have to be presoaked or boiled before they can be used.

Stir-Fried Noodles

  1. Have all ingredients measured out, cut up or chopped and within reaching distance before beginning the stir-fry process.
  2. If you are using egg noodles, wheat noodles, or buckwheat noodles, boil the noodles to the proper doneness. If you are using rice noodles or mung bean noodles (cellophane noodles), soak the noodles in hot water until they are soft. After soaking or boiling, drain, rinse and drain again.
  3. A wok, which has deep tapered sides, is a traditional type pan used for stir-frying. A wok works well but is not a necessity. A non-stick deep skillet also works very well. Rice noodles and mung bean noodles are generally deep-fried in the wok or deep skillet and then set aside while other ingredients are stir-fried according to the recipe. Most of the oil used for deep-frying is removed before the stir-fry process begins.
  4. The remaining oil is heated to a very high temperature and then ingredients are added according to how fast they cook. Make sure all ingredients are exposed to the oil and the hottest area of the pan. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat for several minutes, constantly stirring and tossing the ingredients.
  5. Continue to cook on medium-high heat until the ingredients are tender but still have a crunchy texture. The food will cook quickly so it is important to add the ingredients at the proper times, being careful not to overcook.
  6. Add the noodles into the stir-fry as called for in the recipe. Generally the noodles are added towards the end of the stir-frying process and tossed with the other ingredients only long enough to heat thoroughly.
  7. Serve the stir-fry as soon as it is finished.

Baking

Baked pasta dishes have become very popular and are served as main courses, side dishes, or as the first course of a meal. There are many different baked dishes but one of the most popular and well known is lasagne. Lasagne is a layered dish that is made in many variations. Baked pasta consists of dishes layered with ingredients, dishes consisting of stuffed pasta, and dishes that have tossed ingredients. Most baked pasta dishes can be made a day ahead and then baked just before serving.

When preparing baked dishes, most ingredients, including the pasta, must be precooked before the dish is baked. Baking is just a means of thoroughly heating all of the ingredients as one dish. Some dishes are broiled for a period of time to provide a crisp surface. The only time precooking is not necessary is if you are using homemade lasagne sheets that have not been allowed to dry or if you are using a "no need to precook" type of commercial lasagne sheet.


The baking dish used for baked pasta should be heavy duty and made of an ovenproof material, such as glass or ceramic. The dish should have fairly high sides to prevent the bubbling sauce and melting cheese from spilling over in the oven as the dish bakes. Many times the bottom and sides of the baking dish are buttered before ingredients are added. Buttering the bottom and sides helps prevent the ingredients from sticking to the dish when it is baked.

Baked pasta dishes include ingredients such as pasta, meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, herbs, spices and some type of sauce. The sauce can be tomato or cream based but must include enough liquid to provide sufficient moisture to keep the pasta dish from drying out. During the baking process, the pasta will be further cooked and will absorb some of the liquid from the sauce. When precooking the pasta, it is important that it is removed from the heat while it is still a little undercooked otherwise the additional cooking and liquid absorption during the baking process will cause the pasta to become overdone and mushy. The precooked pasta should also be well drained so excess moisture is not added to the rest of the dish, causing it to become too watery.


Reheating

Plain pasta and pasta dishes can be reheated in the oven, microwave or on the stovetop.

Plain Pasta

Plain leftover pasta can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Stovetop:

  1. To reheat on the stovetop, bring some salt water to a boil. Be sure it is enough water to sufficiently cover the amount of pasta you are reheating. You do not need as much water as when the pasta is originally cooked.
  2. Add the leftover pasta to the boiling water and allow it to boil for approximately 30 to 60 seconds, or until it is heated all the way through.

    Variation:
    Asian Noodles -
    When reheating Asian noodles, place them in a strainer or colander and immerse into the boiling water just far enough to immerse all the noodles. Allow the noodles to sit in the boiling water for 20 seconds. Stir noodles with a wooden spoon to separate them while immersed in the boiling water. After 20 seconds, drain and rinse.

  3. Check after 30 seconds and if not thoroughly heated, continue to boil and check every 15 seconds until thoroughly heated. Do not overcook.
  4. Drain heated pasta and serve plain, add it to a sauce or add it to another dish.

Microwave:

  1. Put leftover pasta on a plate or in a microwave safe baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving one corner open slightly to allow steam to escape.
  2. Microwave on medium power to prevent overcooking and heat for 1 to 1 ½ minutes. If the microwave does not have a turntable, stop the microwave halfway through the cooking time and turn the dish. After the cooking time is completed, check to see if it is warmed thoroughly. If not completely warmed, return to the microwave and continue to cook in 15-second intervals, checking after each to see if it is heated thoroughly.
  3. When properly heated, remove from the microwave and carefully remove the plastic wrap covering. Be careful of escaping steam as the covering is removed.
  4. Serve reheated pasta plain, add it to a sauce or add it to another dish.

Sauced and Baked Pasta Dishes

Sauced and baked pasta dishes can be reheated on the stovetop, in the microwave or in the oven. To reheat on the stovetop, the pasta would have to be sauced and stored in a heatproof plastic bag
.
Stovetop:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot large enough to hold the bagged pasta. Drop the heatproof bag of sauced pasta into the boiling water. Be sure the bag is completely sealed before placing it in the water.
  2. Allow the bag to remain in the boiling water for approximately 1 minute, or until it is heat all the way through. The time required to reheat the pasta will depend on the type of pasta and the quantity.
  3. Check after 1 minute and if not thoroughly heated, continue to boil and check every 15 to 30 seconds until thoroughly heated. Do not overcook.
  4. When sufficiently heated, pour the pasta from the bag into a serving bowl or on a serving plate.

Microwave:

  1. Reheat in the microwave in the same manner that you would microwave plain pasta - See instructions above.
  2. If you have any leftover sauce, it can be drizzled over the pasta before reheating to help prevent the pasta from becoming too dried out.

Oven:

  1. Place the leftover pasta in an ovenproof dish that has a tight fitting cover or cover tightly with foil. Having the pasta covered tightly is necessary to prevent it from drying out.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325° and place the ovenproof dish in the oven.
  3. Heat for 20 minutes and then check to see if the dish is heated all the way through. If it is not sufficiently heated, return it to the oven and heat for an additional 10 minutes. Check again and if not heated thoroughly, return to the oven again. Repeat at 10-minute intervals until thoroughly heated. Reheating time will vary according to the type of pasta dish and the quantity you are reheating.
  4. When thoroughly heated, it is ready to serve.

When reheating any type of pasta, it is important to keep it from getting too dried out with whatever method you are using. To prevent it from becoming too dried out, be sure to not use too high of heat, cover the pasta tightly and do not cook any longer than necessary to heat it thoroughly.

Tips on Reheating:

  • When microwaving leftover pasta, heating individual serving size portions one at a time works better than trying to reheat several servings at one time. The individual servings will heat more evenly.
  • Using a round or oval microwave safe dish for reheating in the microwave allows the pasta to reheat more evenly. A square cornered baking dish has a tendency to allow the corners to overcook.
  • When reheating lasagne in the oven, poke several small holes in the top of the lasagne and pour a small amount of milk over it and then cover the lasagne tightly with foil. Place in a 350° oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbling. The little bit of milk will help keep the lasagne moist.

Checking Doneness

The amount of time required to cook pasta to its proper doneness varies depending on its size, shape and thickness. Also, whether the pasta is fresh or dried greatly affects the amount of cooking time required. Cooking times can vary from 1 to 2 minutes for some of the fresh pasta to more than 15 minutes for some of the larger and thicker dried pasta shapes. Methods for checking the doneness for dried and fresh pasta are shown below.

Dried Pasta

Dried pasta is available in many shapes and sizes, which can cause the cooking times to vary greatly. The larger, bulkier pasta shapes will take more time to cook than the more delicate strands of pasta or soup pastas, but they can all be checked for doneness in basically the same manner. Generally the pasta package will show suggested cooking times, which is beneficial because it provides a starting point.

Visual: Check the package for the minimum cooking time suggested for the quantity of pasta you are cooking and then begin checking for doneness approximately 1 or 2 minutes before the suggested minimum time is up. If the pasta is not done, continue to check every 30 seconds until done. Visually check the pasta to see if it has started to swell slightly and watch for it to begin rising to the surface of the boiling water. Both are indications that the pasta is getting close to done and that you should start to check it. Lift a pasta shape from the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Cut the pasta in half and check the center, which if the pasta is done, it should not have a white ring or spot in it, or be opaque in appearance. The pasta should be uniform in color and if you are cooking strands of pasta, the strands should drape easily over the spoon when lifted from the water.

Taste: Tasting the pasta is probably the best way to determine doneness. Check the package for the minimum cooking time suggested for the quantity of pasta you are cooking and then begin checking for doneness approximately 1 or 2 minutes before the suggested minimum time is up. If the pasta is not done, continue to check every 30 seconds until done. When the pasta is done it will be tender but still have a slight bite to it. Cooking pasta to this point of doneness is called "al dente," which is Italian for "to the tooth". If the pasta is overcooked it becomes mushy. It is better to have it undercooked rather that overcooked. The pasta should be slightly undercooked if it is going to be added to another dish, be expose to further cooking, or be added to a hot soup.

Fresh Pasta

Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta and must be watched very carefully to ensure that it is not overcooked. The fresher it is the faster it will cook. Fresh pasta is soft and doughy before it is cooked and then firms up as it is cooked.

Taste: Tasting fresh pasta is the best way to check for doneness. If the pasta is very fresh and moist it can cook within a minute or two. Generally after the pasta is put in the boiling water and the water begins boiling again it takes 2 to 4 minutes for it to get done. Checking for doneness should begin as soon as the pasta begins to float to the surface. If it is not done, check doneness again every 15 to 20 seconds until it is done. It must be watched very carefully so that it does not become overcooked. Fresh pasta should be tender and slightly firm, but it will never be "al dente" because it is not firm textured to start.

Whether you are cooking fresh or dried pasta, once it is done it should be removed from the heat and drained immediately so that the cooking process is stop. If the pasta remains in the hot water, if will continue to cook and become overcooked.


Saucing the Pasta

Most pastas have a similar flavor but when the sauce is added, the pasta and sauce create their own unique flavor. There are many types of sauces that can be used but some go better with certain types of pasta than others. Some general guidelines are shown below.

Shaped Pasta - Conchiglie, farfalle, fusilli, gemelli, gnocchetti, gramigna, lumache, lumaconi, orecchiette, radiatori, route, rotini, and trenne.
Sauce: Thick tomato sauces, meat sauces, chunky sauces, and cheese sauces

Tubular Pasta - Canneroni, cannolicchi, cavatappi, garganelli, macaroni, maccheroncelli, manicotti, paccheri, penne, rigatoni, tortiglioni, and ziti
Sauce: Thick tomato sauces, meat sauces, chunky sauces, and thick cream sauces

Strand Pasta - Angel hair, capellini, chitarra, fedelini, spaghetti, and vermicelli
Sauce: Light tomato sauces, butter based sauces, light oil based sauces, and light cream based sauces.

Ribbon Pasta - Fettuccine, lasagne, linguine, pappardelle, riginette, tagliatelle, and trenette
Sauce: For the wider dried pastas - meat sauces, thick tomato sauces, and thick cream sauces. For narrow or fresh pastas - Light tomato sauces, butter based sauces, light oil based sauces, and light cream based sauces.

Soup Pasta - Acini di pepe, alphabets, anellini, conchigliette, ditali, farfalline, orzo, pastine, risi, stele, stortini, and tubetti
Sauce: Light sauces, mainly used in broth or soups with a light base.

Stuffed Pasta - Agnolotti, pansotti, ravioli, tortelli, and tortellini
Sauce: Light tomato sauce, light cream based sauce, and broth.

Asian Noodles - Asian noodles, Asian wheat noodles, Asian rice noodles, bean thread noodles, cornstarch noodles, seaweed noodles, and soba noodles.
Sauce: Generally not eaten with a sauce. Used in stir-fries, soups and salads.

The pasta should not be over-sauced. It only needs to be coated with enough sauce to allow the pasta to benefit from its flavor. There should not be leftover sauce in the bottom of the bowl when all of the pasta has been eaten. Shown below are some basic guidelines on adding sauce to the pasta.

    1. Drain the pasta and gently shake the colander, leaving a little of the cooking water clinging to the pasta. The light coat of cooking water will allow the sauce to blend and spread throughout the pasta more evenly.
    2. Add just enough sauce to evenly coat all of the pasta. The sauce can be added using several methods.

      Heat Pasta and Sauce Together - The best method for infusing the flavor of the sauce into the pasta is to pour the pasta back into the pan it was cooked in while the pot is still warm and then add the sauce to it. With the pan over low heat, stir and toss the pasta and sauce until the pasta is well coated. This will keep the pasta warm, infuse the sauces flavor in the pasta and keep the pasta from sticking together. Limit the amount of time the pasta is returned to the heat source to 1 minute or less, otherwise it may become over-cooked. If cooking fresh or homemade pasta this method may not be the best to use because the pasta will overcook too quickly.
      Toss Pasta and Sauce in a Warm Bowl - After draining, the pasta can be added to a warmed serving bowl or plate and the sauce can then be added to the pasta and tossed together until evenly coated.
      Serve Pasta and Sauce in Separate Warm Bowls - After draining, the plain pasta can be added to a warmed serving bowl, with the sauce added to another warmed serving bowl and then served separately. If serving in this manner, be sure the pasta is not drained completely. Leaving some of the cooking water on the pasta will help keep the pasta from sticking together. The pasta should be served immediately. If it is not going to be served immediately, drain the past completely, put it back in the pan it was cooked in, and add butter or oil to keep it from sticking together.

    3. Once the pasta has been sauced, serve immediately in warmed serving bowls or on warmed serving plates.

Tips

Light Tips for Pasta Dishes

  • Prepare dishes flavored with vegetables and herbs rather than meats and cream sauces.
  • When possible, use low-fat cheese, such as ricotta or cottage cheese in place of other cheeses.
  • Reduce the amount of cheese that is used on the top of baked dishes.
  • When making sauces that call for butter, replace it with olive oil.
  • When making a cream sauce, use skim or lowfat milk instead of cream.
  • In dishes that call for meat, reduce the amount of meat and increase some of the other ingredients that contain less fat, such as vegetables.

Cooking Tips

  • When cooking fresh pasta, watch it very closely and test often for doneness because it cooks quickly.
  • Adding salt to the water when cooking pasta will help firm the pasta and bring out its flavor.
  • Add a tablespoon of oil to the water when cooking lasagne. Because lasagne noodles are long, wide and thick, they have a tendency to stick together when they cool. The oil in the cooking water will help to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Pasta should be cooked as close to serving time as possible because it cools down quite rapidly. Serve the pasta on a heated plate or in a heated bowl to help keep it warm.
  • To warm a large bowl for serving pasta, put the serving bowl in the sink and place the colander in it. When the pasta is done, pour it into the colander, allowing the hot water to drain into the bowl. Pull the colander out of the serving bowl and let the pasta drain. Empty the hot water from the serving bowl and pour the pasta into the warm bowl.
  • When cooking fresh or homemade pasta, be sure to have everything ready that you will need to prepare the pasta for serving, such as the colander in the sink, the sauce made and warmed bowls or plates ready to be filled. Fresh and homemade pasta cooks so rapidly that you need to have everything ready ahead of time.
  • To bring pasta water to a boil more quickly, cover the pot with a lid while you are heating the water. Do not cover the pot while cooking the pasta.
  • When making lasagne, use the "no need to cook" lasagne noodles to save time.
  • To prevent pasta from boiling over, place a wooden spoon or fork across the top of the pot while the pasta is boiling.
  • Don't worry about cooking too much pasta, the leftover pasta can be refrigerated and used later in other dishes, such as salads, casseroles or soups. It can also be reheated and eaten plain or with a sauce.
  • If combining different pastas, be sure to select shapes and sizes that are similar so that they will cook in the same amount of time.

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