Spaghetti, rigatoni, penne, ravioli, linguine, bucatini, orecchiette, strozzapreti, fusilli… No matter the shape, pasta is undeniably delicious. Not only is a big bowl of pasta one of the most satisfying dishes to make, it’s also super-easy to prepare, as long as you adhere to a few simple rules. Boil water, add pasta, and you are good to go — or so you thought. As it turns out, there are probably many things you do and don’t do when cooking pasta that make a huge difference in the texture and taste of your finished bowl.
While pasta is generally associated with Italian cuisine, the tradition was most likely brought back to Italy by explorer Marco Polo from Asia. By the 19th century, the mass production of spaghetti in spaghetti factories made it possible for people across Italy to enjoy it. The mass production of this pasta is why we most often cook dried rather than fresh spaghetti — although you can make fresh pasta at home with little more than a rolling pin and a sharp knife.
When cooked to the perfect al dente, your pasta will be cooked through, but should retain a firm texture, which can be trickier to achieve than just following the directions on the box. Whether you cook pasta every week or once a year, there are a few tricks that will ensure your pasta tastes delicious every time.
Angela Carlos contributed to this story.