Here is how you cook pasta:
First off, start out by boiling some pasta water with salt (you want a good amount of this, roughly a tsp for each quart (16oz)
You really do need to add salt to the water. It’s not because it boils faster or anything of that nature. You add salt because salt will enhance the flavors of the pasta itself. It is vital to add pasta. You also must must must must must boil the water first, before you add the noodles.
Once the water comes to a rolling boil, add the noodles, and stir immediately; you need to separate the noodles so they don’t stick together. Cook for what the box lists as proper cooking time. It’s one of the few things a box gets right, so it is best to follow it. Typically, follow the lower of the two times, because you can always cook it longer. Proper cooking for a noodle is referred to as “al dente.” This may not be the best picture, but you should see a bit of white in the center of the noodle. That is how you visibly know it is done. The noodle should be soft but with a small amount of firmness at the very center.
Strain the noodles when they are done. DO NOT RINSE. I warn you now, do not rinse or you’ll have to deal with nothing sticking to your noodles. By rinsing, you remove all of the starch from the exterior of the noodle, and make them slippery. You lose any chance of sauce gripping the noodles. If you are going to have the noodles sit for a few minutes before consumption, add a splash of olive oil and shake to mix. This will keep them from sticking and maintain its starchiness.
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