Properly cooked pasta is al dente (al DEN tay - Italian for "to the tooth") - tender yet still slightly chewy and resilient. This is a particular challenge when making pasta for prepared foods and food service environments, which is why so many companies come to Zerega for their pasta, which is designed to withstand commercial cooking applications. To cook pasta on the stove top:
1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add salt to taste.
2. Add pasta to boiling water and stir.
3. Return water to a boil. Exact cooking time depends on the pasta shape. Follow package directions but begin testing your pasta several minutes before "official" time recommends.
4. Remove from heat and drain pasta.
When Is Pasta Al Dente?
Many unusual methods have been used to test pasta, but the best is the most simple: Taste it! Start testing a few minutes before the manufacturer's directions indicate: Remove a piece of pasta from the pot, wait a moment for it to cool, and then take a bite. Now take a close look. If you see a large white, uncooked center or ring, continue to cook pasta a minute more, then test again. Your pasta is cooked and al dente if there is a small white dot of uncooked core. For softer pasta, wait until there is no white uncooked core showing.
Should You Rinse Pasta?
Drain your pasta using a large colander, big enough to hold all the pasta at once. Do not rinse the pasta unless you plan to use it in a pasta salad or a casserole, such as lasagna or stuffed shells. Rinsing removes important surface starch that helps sauce cling to pasta.
Serve your pasta immediately on plates or in bowls, preferably warmed to maintain temperature. Pasta-loving Italians call family and guests to the dinner table moments before they drain their pasta - a good way to insure that everyone enjoys piping-hot pasta.
How to Store and Reheat Pasta
Store uncooked pasta in its original package or a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place. Egg noodles may be stored up to 1 year; non-egg pastas like spaghetti and elbow macaroni may be stored up to 2 years.
Cooked pasta may be refrigerated in a sealed container for three to four days.
Some tips for reusing cooked pasta:
- To reheat on the stovetop: Place individual portions of cooked pasta in a metal colander and immerse in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain, sauce, and serve. This works especially well if you slightly undercooked the pasta the first time you boiled it.
- To reheat in a microwave: Combine cooked pasta with sauce and place in a microwaveable bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave 30 to 60 seconds, depending on portion size.