Table of contents:

How to cook pasta: a complete guide
How to cook pasta: a complete guide

What I am about to write (or what you are about to read) could have the title, to paraphrase that of a well-known Fox series, The rules of perfect pasta “.

This is a vademecum on how to cook pasta, whether it's the refined ones spaghetti di Gragnano, or the pasta we often eat, perhaps seasoned with one of the 5 sauces that save lives on every occasion.

In short, a set of rules and tricks perhaps well known to most, but a review of which is always good.

We will talk about doses, pots, golden proportions, salt, rinses, colanders and of course the cooking times.


pasta, doses
pasta, doses

Premise: then do as you please.

However, the standard dose of spaghetti and penne exists and is 100 grams per person of dry semolina pasta, 80-90 grams of egg (more substantial) and about 120 grams if fresh, semolina or egg.

The portions can be reduced by 20-30% in one of the following cases:

- if you are on a diet, perhaps using the trick of choosing bulky pasta (bucatini, paccheri) so as to fill the plate anyway and deceive the eye;

- if you have a very rich seasoning, like a ragù, a Genoese sauce, a pesto with potatoes and green beans, a rock or any other recipe you can think of with a lot of stuff inside;

- if you are a restaurant cool guy who wants to serve portions that are not too large (perhaps even favoring the order of a second course).

I said: then do as you like. Are you hungrier? Cook more. Did you think you were hungrier and instead it is advanced? Make an omelette.


Water for the pasta
Water for the pasta

Large (see next point), it must be strictly high for dry long pasta, while it can be lower if you cook fresh short or long pasta.

There should be nothing more to add, except to emphasize the embarrassment you feel in front of someone struggling with complicated maneuvers to lower the spaghetti into a saucepan that is not high enough and, God forbid, end up breaking them, more or less voluntarily.

10, 100, 1000

pasta, water, salt
pasta, water, salt

This should be, according to the classic prescription, the proportion between salt, pasta and water. I have always given a damn, as I believe 99 percent of Italians who basically go by eye.

I challenge you both to cook a hectogram of paccheri in a liter of water, and to always have a 12-liter pot at hand for when you invite your 10 hungry soccer mates to eat two penne all'arrabbiata after the match. Thursday evening.

It is not scientific, but the definition of "abundant boiling water" found in almost all cookbooks is basically correct. Rather than a little, a lot. Even if you will then have to wait a little longer before it boils. Remembering that the salt does not join immediately simply because the still water reaches the boil first.

But in short, how much goes up? Go to the next step.


salt, pasta
salt, pasta

Let's say that the amount of 10 grams per liter of water could also be right, but I don't think any of you are going to weigh it on the slingbar. In addition to each having a different sensitivity to the savory taste.

Without forgetting specific needs: when making pasta with colatura, bottarga or clams, the salt does not add or is reduced a lot.

Given that we all know our pots and we know that in that given pan full of water goes one of our handfuls, or two of our spoons, scoops or whoever for them, in doubt (particular recipe, new or little used pot) do not there is how to taste the water, before pouring the pasta, to understand if you have been sparing (if necessary, adjust) or excessively generous (if necessary, add more water).

Do you realize just before draining that your pasta is too salty?

The only remedy I can think of to suggest to you is to fill a jug of tap water, as hot as possible, bring it to a boil in the microwave (it should take no more than a minute) and add it to the pot, hoping it will be enough to dilute the water. 'excess.


rinse paste
rinse paste

I have heard someone say: if I have salted the pasta too much, after having drained it, rinse it under the tap, but with hot water, eh!

Here, it is not done. And you don't even go under cold water if you want to make salads and the like.

Rather, drain it, pour it into a tray, season it with a drizzle of oil and let it cool spread out in a low and even layer, turning it every now and then: the best tool is your hands.



If you are cooking no more than 2-3 servings, the best way to perfectly creamy seasonings is to drain with a slotted spoon, tongs or fork, directly into the sauce.

I don't like pots with a basket, but I admit it's a good way to quickly switch from water to sauce.

If the quantities are greater, use the colander but be quick to transfer the sauce to the bowl: the slightly moist pasta, veiled with starchy cooking water, takes the sauce better and is creamier.

Never, ever pour into the colander, divide into plates and add the sauce, leaving the diners with the burden of mixing the two elements.


cooking pasta
cooking pasta

There are those who say with pride: I go by eye. Who, like myself, checks what is indicated on the package and puts the timer on, so as not to forget that there is pasta to drain while other preparations are being made (or a phone call, so to speak).

Then, with experience and personal taste, we learn that we prefer the given brand of spaghetti with one more or less cooking minute, and that if aunt comes for lunch it is always better not to serve the fusilli too al dente.

However, a taste a couple of minutes before the time is up must always be given: both to verify that the cooking is almost perfect and to check the aforementioned salt.

Well, finished review. And maybe there would be a thousand other tricks that didn't come to mind. But I am sure that you, dear readers, will be helpful in completing the vademecum.

And make, if necessary, the necessary personal corrections.

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