Cooking pasta can seem deceivingly simple. However, as with all things simple, timing is crucial. Boiling just a few minutes less or more can produce very unsatisfactory results. As Italians put it pasta should be “al dente” which literally translates as “just right for the tooth”, or firm enough to bite, not soft and overcooked. Here is a set of cooking rules to help you fit the perfect time window!

Pick a roomy pot

Make sure you have plenty of water in your large cooking pan. At least 500 ml per 100 g of dried pasta. You need to have enough room at the top so that the water does not overflow at some point. The pasta should be totally submerged under water and have sufficient space to move so that it doesn’t get crowded into a tight ball.

Salt the water

Salt the water using a quantity of at least one tablespoon. This is an important step that should not be neglected cause if you haven’t salted your pasta water, the entire dish will taste under-seasoned. You must add the salt the moment when the water comes to a boil.

The right moment to add the pasta

You need to wait until the water gets to a full, rolling boil. If you add the pasta too early, you risk to have raw, uncooked pieces.

The importance of stirring

Do not stay away from the boiling pot. It is recommended that you stir the mixture at least 2 or 3 times during cooking. It will prevent the pasta from clumping.

Boiling time

The best advice when it comes to “How many minutes to boil the pasta?” is: check out what’s recommended on the package (thicker shapes take 10-12 minutes; spaghetti- around 8-10; fresh pasta between 3-5) but do not trust it blindly! It is crucial that you take out a piece of pasta and try it 2 minutes before “the time of ready”.

Save some pasta water

Saving a cup of pasta water is a step many people skip. But it actually works wonders if you need for instance to break down a sauce that is too tick.

A moment to cool down

A must-do is to leave the boiled pasta for a minute or two before mixing with the sauce. Do not cool it down under pouring water – it would be a pity to wash away the starches and the yummy salty flavour.