How to Cook spaghetti

Learn to make this Italian dish easily!

The most popular way to cook spaghetti is simple. Put the pasta into plenty of boiling water, stir it, bring it to a simmer, turn the heat off, put a lid on and leave it to finish cooking for 10-12 mins. This method works perfectly fine.


How to cook spaghetti for best flavor

It’s also possible to cook pasta in less water than you usually use. Instead of tipping away lots of water after cooking, you’ll end up with a small amount of very starchy water in the pan – this will help thicken any pasta sauce it is added to, and will put the flavour lost in the water back into the sauce (recipes often tell you to reserve some pasta water to do this). You will have to stir the pasta every now and then as it cooks. Eminent American food science author Harold McGee writes in his book An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science that you get the best results for spaghetti if you cook it in a frying pan, using cold water to start.

How to stop spaghetti sticking

  1. Don’t add oil. The first thing to know is that adding oil to the water has no effect, as it floats on the top of the water. The second thing to know is that adding oil to cooked spaghetti will make any sauce slide off it – again, not what you want.
  2. Stir the pasta after you’ve added it to the water. Pasta releases starch as soon as it starts to cook. When you put it in boiling water it does this straight away, making the surface of the pasta sticky, which is why you always have to stir the pot to separate the pieces. As the spaghetti continues to cook, the starch dissolves into the water so it doesn’t stick any more.

What kind of spaghetti should I use?

Not all pasta is equal – some is of a far better quality than others. Choose a good-quality pasta made with 100% durum wheat for the best outcome. Higher-quality pasta has a higher protein content, and takes a couple of minutes longer to cook, but you can also overcook it slightly or cook it further in its sauce and it will still have a good texture. It is also easier to cook ‘al dente’.

How to cook spaghetti al dente

Cooking spaghetti until it is al dente (meaning ‘to the tooth’ or ‘to the bite’) means that it will be cooked through but still firm and very slightly chewy. Most packs of spaghetti will give you a cooking time from boiling that will thoroughly cook the pasta – you’ll need to cook it for a minute or two less to have al dente pasta. Fresh pasta can never be al dente.

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