Al Dente is a term that is used to tell you what your pasta should be cooked like. Al Dente means that your pasta should still be a little firm or have a "bite" to it. After all who wants a bowl Spaghetti mush? That doesn't form a pretty picture in my mind!
Now know how you want your pasta cooked and actually executing it, well those can really be two different things!! First and foremost you need to start out with a BIG pot, I mean a BIG pot an 8quarter!! The pasta needs room to swim around, if there isn't enough room your going to end up with a big lump of pasta instead of beautiful individual strands! So go on fill the pot up with cold water. Personally I like to salt the water now that way as it heats up it has time to dissolve into the water, how much salt well I put two generous handfuls.... the experts at my Fav magazine Bon Apettie suggest 3 tbs for every 5 quarts of water, so for the 8 quarter you are looking at about 4.5 tbs and they suggest throwing your salt in after the water has started to boil. Do what you like, when u salt it really isn't going to effect how the end product comes out....just make sure that you do salt it!!
So now that your water is salted and it is boiling it is time to add in the pasta. Make sure that you stir it right away so that it doesn't stick remember we want individual strands not a lump!! If your past is tall light spaghetti take some tongs and give it a twist to make sure that it is fully submerged! Hehehe but if you are being good and using the suggested 8 quart pot, a doubt that the pasta is going to be taller than the pot......now this is the time to add oil or not to add oil. The DL on the oil is this, it isn't going to stop your pasta from sticking as has been suggested, but it will keep your pot from boiling over, but then again if you are using the proper size pot it shouldn't boil over. So it is up to you weather or not you want to add the oil!!
I say check your pasta about six minutes in (now this is for your hard pasta, fresh pasta will cook in like a minute!!) as Bon Appetie suggest when the pasta begins to soften start tasting it, ummm but how long does it take to soften would be my question. So I six minutes in take a strand out and take a taste, but for god sakes be careful it is going to be HOT!! Now when u bite it it shouldn't be mushy but it also shouldn't be hard as a rock. If it is still a little to hard for you let it cook for a couple more minutes and then re test it. Most pasta is done in about 8-10 minutes. It just depends on the shape and type of pasta. Typically your whole grain pasta's will take a little longer to cook as they seem to be denser.
Ok so your pasta is done, you want to strain it in a colander or if you are really cool your 8 quarter may come with it's on colander and when u remove the pasta from it, it comes out strained. Unfortunately I don't have one of those yet...hmmmm will have to hint at the BF for one of those....oooo and V day is coming up...heheheh..... Ok back on top Angelica, sorry but I would love one of those pots! Now don't rinse your pasta because the starch that is on it is what helps whatever sauce you are going to be coating it with stick!! Now if you are worried about it sticking this is the time to add in some oil, about a tablespoon of extra virgin OO.
Another hit is that if you are going to be adding the pasta to a sauce that is cooking and u plan on leaving the pasta in the cooking sauce for a bit, you will want to under cook the pasta. Otherwise you are going to end up with mushy pasta!! NO don't try it, don't try cooking your pasta in the sauce to save a pan. Your sauce will be screwed up!! Remember as pasta cooks it releases starch and that starch is a thickener!! You will end up with a big lump instead of a tasty sauce and noodles!! Ummm yeah I know from experience, it isn't pleasant!!
Well I hope this helps you guys on your pasta adventures!! Oh and btw if you haven't entered the blog contest ENTER IT NOW!!! You will be in love with Heather's cards!! Oh and since I am shamelessly self promoting right now, I expect to see you all at the Team Eeat Bake Sale tonight in the Etsy labs!! It starts at 8pm Est!!!!
Alright I am outtie, so be happy and be safe!!