Tips to Cooking Perfect Spaghetti
Not too hard, not too soft - tips for making sure your spaghetti is done just right. (No noodle throwing involved.)
Looking to impress with an authentic Italian dinner? Staring into a pot of boiling water and wondering “how do I tell if spaghetti is done”? Sure, you can test doneness by flinging your spaghetti noodles against the wall and seeing if they stick, but don't worry — there's a better way. Follow these easy tips instead.
Setting Up the Pot
Cooking pasta correctly starts with getting the pot and the water ready. It’s important that you have plenty of room in the pot for the noodles to cook evenly without getting clumped together. A good rule of thumb is that you will need one gallon of water for each pound of pasta.
The second thing to remember is to salt the water before cooking. This allows the salt to get into the noodles and provide a good, even flavor while they cook. A standard used by the Culinary Institute of America is one ounce of salt for a gallon of water. This equates to about a tablespoon and a half. It may seem like a lot, but remember that pasta on its own is fairly bland, so the added taste of the salt will really bring out the flavor of your dish.
Bring your water up to a fast rolling boil before sliding the dry spaghetti into the pot. Then, bring the water back up to a simmering boil. Once all of your pasta is in the water, give it a good stir to prevent clumping. Stir frequently throughout the 10 to 12 minute cooking time, and don't forget to scrape the bottom of the pot to make sure noodles haven’t stuck there.
Taste to Test
When you’ve neared the end of the cooking time, pull a strand of the spaghetti out of the pot and taste it. If it’s still a little crunchy, it needs more time to cook. When you can bite into the pasta and feel just a slight bit of resistance, it’s done. Pasta will still continue to cook a little even after you’ve pulled it from the heat, so undercooking it slightly will ensure that by the time it reaches the table, it will have a perfect texture.
Another way to check and see if your pasta is cooked is to pull a piece out and cut it in half. If done, it will have a uniform color without any white in the middle of the strand.
Drain and Serve
After your pasta has cooked completely, drain it in a colander in the sink. Shake the colander a few times to get as much of the water out as you can, and then pour it back into the pot. At this point, add a touch of olive oil and lightly stir to coat all the strands before serving.
That's all there is to it — never wonder how to tell when spaghetti is done again.