Ah, pasta.

Its carb heavy goodness is a staple in many diets, and the subject of many food dreams. However, its simple nature should not be taken for granted as there is in fact an art to cooking perfect pasta, just like they do in Italy. I came to my pasta enlightenment when I studied abroad in Milan. I was educated on these sacred ways, and the ritual has been so life changing. I just have to share. Here's how to cook pasta like an Italian. 

Step 1: Salt your cooking water

Cooking pasta like an Italian starts with the prep work. First, you fill a pot with water, we all know that much. However, if you are not salting your cooking water, you really ought to start. Salting the water is the only chance you have to add flavor to the actual pasta, and it's how they do it in Italy. A generous pinch should be enough for a standard batch. 

Step 2: Measure Out the Pasta

spaghetti, pasta, macaroni
Alex Frank

If you want to cook pasta like an Italian, gone are the days of cooking random amounts of spaghetti. To make the perfect amount of pasta, you need to measure it. It will tell you on the package how much pasta is in each serving, all you need to do is ask your stomach how many servings you need, and measure away. 

Step 3: Fan the Noodles Into the Pot

In Italy, they don't just dump the pasta into the pot. If you're cooking spaghetti, you grasp the pasta in a fist, and fan it out into the pot, dropping the pasta gradually with a little flick of the wrist. This helps distribute the pasta more evenly in the pot and ensures a more consistent cooking process. Ideally, you should have a pot big enough that the entire noodle can be submerged in the water at once. You do not want to snap the noodles in half. When you do, it snaps my Italian heart too.  

Step 4: Stir the Noodles

If you are doing it like an Italian, cooking time is not nap time! You still have work to do while your pasta is boiling. Every couple of minutes, stir the noodles to prevent them from sticking together and to keep them cooking evenly. Nobody wants sticky noodles, so stir, stir, stir. 

Step 5: Cook to Al Dente 

Repeat after me, "spaghetti should not be mushy." Capisce? Capisce. The cooking time to a perfect al dente will depend on the pasta, but you can look on the package to find the right time for your variety. Make sure you set a timer so that you don't over cook your pasta.

Step 6: Save Some Cooking Water

ice, water, splash, cup of water, water cup, water splash, dropping ice
Jocelyn Hsu

Before you drain your pasta, grab a ladle and a small bowl and take out some of the cooking water. Later, you can use this water to moisten your sauced pasta if it gets a little dry. It is better to use cooking water than tap water because the cooking water already has all of the pasta starches in it, and that yummy salt you added earlier. Pretty much, it just prevents your pasta from tasting watered down even though it kind of is.

Step 7: Drain and Run Under Cool Water  

pasta, spaghetti
Alex Frank

To cook pasta like an Italian, drain your spaghetti, then run some cool water over it. This not only cools the pasta down to eating temperature, but it stops the cooking process. You need to commit all the way through to getting a perfect al dente.

Step 8: Sauce and Eat

I am sure we are all good at the last step: eating the pasta.  When your eating, just make sure to twirl the spaghetti onto your fork, no chopping the Spaghetti!

Honestly, there is not a bad way to cook and eat pasta. However, if you are looking to bring your spaghetti experience a little closer to its Italian roots, then I hope you found some of this helpful. Buon appetito!