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How do you cook pasta and what temperature?

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    Dry or fresh pasta? What kind/shape? – brhans Jan 10 at 21:38
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    If you're making it yourself, hopefully whatever recipe you're following will have instructions on how to cook it. If it's sold already made, usually it comes with some sort of instructions or you ask the little old lady selling it by the side of the road what she recommends – Joe Jan 10 at 21:49
  • A good question, thanks for asking it. – moscafj Jan 10 at 23:03
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    @moscafj : you have an interesting concept of 'good question'. I mean, I'm not one to call out someone on a question that's lacking, but this is the sort of question that I'd have expected from AttilaNYC . (Not quite Evan Carroll level of bad, but it's so vague that I wonder if Mike actually has this question or is just tipping his toe in to see if it's worth trolling) A good question would have mentioned what's been tried, what went wrong, and some indication that they had looked at other questions about cooking pasta on here. – Joe Jan 11 at 0:34
  • @ Joe type "how do you cook" into the search bar. I think you will find a long line of questions asking how certain ingredients or dishes are cooked. It is a simply asked question, but one that has not been asked or answered before. I'm puzzled by the down votes and the snark. If you want more detail and clarification from the OP, just ask for it. In the meantime, I've done the best I can to answer the question. You or others are certainly welcome to contribute. – moscafj Jan 11 at 1:01
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Most fresh or dried pasta is cooked in boiling water. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt...enough so that you can taste it. I don't measure, but a tablespoon or two in a large pot is usually sufficient. My personal habit is to add salt just before I add pasta. That way, I don't forget. This is important. If you don't use salted water, the pasta will taste bland.

Different sizes and shapes of pasta take different amounts of time to cook. When using commercial, dried pasta, the cooking time is often indicated on the box. Pasta done-ness is a matter of personal preference, but in general most Americans over cook dried pastas and undercook fresh pastas.

For dried, I usually cook one or two minutes below the time indicated on the package, then remove from the pot of water directly to the pan with the condiment so that I can finish the cooking and make them into one unified dish. This usually takes about a minute, because I've created the condiment while the pasta is cooking. I do the same with fresh pasta, which usually takes less time to cook than dried. In either case, I am looking for a little give when I bite into it...not hard, but not mushy.

Then, there are a variety of baked pasta dishes, however, they generally begin by cooking the pasta in boiling water first...but that is probably the answer to a different question.

  • Italians say water should by "salty as sea water". One teaspoon of salt per litre water is usually considered standard. – Galastel Jan 11 at 0:24
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    @Galastel it's a nice saying, but that would be far too salty. In general sea water is about 3.5% salt. That's about 35 grams per liter. Your suggestion of 1 tsp (about 4 grams) per liter is reasonable, but certainly not "salty as sea water." – moscafj Jan 11 at 1:18
  • And the Med and Aegean are saltier than average...commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WOA09_sea-surf_SAL_AYool.png – Spagirl Jan 11 at 11:41
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I'm going to share a family secret with you that I've been using for 40 years... I have no online reference and can only say that this was handed down to me by my Mother, who learned about it from her Mother, etc. How I was taught to cook dried pasta:

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. (I prefer to salt my water and add just a smidgen of oil or butter.). Add the pasta, stirring to make sure all of the noodles are under water. Turn the heat off. Put the lid on, don't lift the lid. And set the timer for 20 minutes. [Note: Egg noodles need less time.]

Result: Your noodles will be al dente` without having to constantly worry over them. And you will have that time to finish off your dish, set the table, make the garlic bread, etc.

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