How to cook pasta
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This is how to cook pasta, the Italian way.
Depending on your recipe, you might have to start preparing sauces or other additions before making the actual pasta. The general rule is that the sauce should wait for the pasta, not the other way around.
This method of boiling applies to most types of pasta. On average, for every 200 grams of pasta you need 4 liters of water. When the water boils, put in the salt; you will need about one tablespoon of salt for every two quarts of water. You can also put the salt when the water is cold, but the salt will take longer to dissolve, and can stain or corrode the bottom of stainless steel pots. Once the salt has dissolved and the water has returned to a boil, throw in your pasta and start measuring the time.
The length of time differs for each kind of pasta (generally, the box suggests a boiling time), and goes from 5 minutes for thin spaghettini to 12 and up minutes for some thicker kinds. A bit less time than suggested will produce a firmer pasta (al dente - heavy to digest, however) while a bit more time causes pasta to be more flexible. It is a good idea to follow the suggestions on the box until you are sufficiently experienced in making pasta. Fresh, egg-based pasta (pasta all'uovo) takes very little time to cook. Fresh noodles hardly need a minute after the water has returned to the boil; filled pasta like tortellini need only a few minutes to cook through. Many experienced cooks like to sample a piece of the pasta while boiling it (spizzicatura - they "fish" it out with a slotted spoon) to stop cooking just at their desired consistency. When boiling time is completed, separate pasta from water with a strainer, put in a wide dish and add everything else. A suggestion: a simple combination of butter and Parmigiano Reggiano, or some oil, parsley or basil and fresh garlic, will be as tasty as more sophisticated preparations. Serve the pasta hot, immediately, unless the recipe says differently.