How To Cook Pasta

11/04/2011 11:21 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

Chef Joseph DiPerri of The Culinary Institute of America demonstrates the simplest way to cook perfect pasta. Using well-salted water is a must, he says. The ideal ratio is one gallon of water to one pound of pasta to one ounce of salt --you'll get the fullest flavor this way. Also important: Wait for the water to come to a full, rolling boil to keep the pasta from sticking. Water that's not hot enough will result in a clump at the bottom of your pan. Wondering about adding oil? Skip it. It's unnecessary, says chef DiPerri, and can result in a fire hazard if it gets out of the pan. Once you add the pasta to the water, whether it's dry or fresh, you want to stir often so the pasta doesn't stick together or to the pan. Cooking time will depend on size and thickness.

Wondering when it's done? The most foolproof way to check is to taste it. But you can also use a knife to cut through the pasta -- a white core means it's not finished. Once you're happy with the texture, drain your pasta and you're ready to eat.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Joe DiPerri from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to cook pasta.

First, I'm going to turn the water on so we have boiling water. I'm going to season the water with some salt. The ratio when cooking pasta is one gallon of water, one pound of pasta, and one ounce of salt. This should give your pasta full flavor.

We just need to wait for our water to come to a full rolling boil before we add the pasta, so the pasta doesn't all stick together while it's cooking.

There's a lot of talk about people putting oil in the water, but it's really unnecessary. First of all, the pasta sinks, while the oil floats; and secondly, when the water comes to a full rolling boil as you can see right now, if the water splashes out of your pot you're going to create a fire hazard in your home. The best thing to do is leave the oil in the oil container, and just use plenty of boiling salted water for your pasta.

Now, as you can see, we've come to the full rolling boil; now we can add our pasta directly to the water. Always remember, whether you're making fresh pasta or dried pasta, it's extremely important to stir often so that the pasta doesn't stick together or stick to the bottom of the pot. The pasta I've chosen today is fusilli pasta, and this pasta should take approximately ten to twelve minutes to cook, just like any of the other spaghetti or long-style pastas. A ten- to twelve-minute cooking time is a normal time - unlike things like penne or ziti or even rigatoni, which are a little bit larger, a little bit thicker, so the pasta will cook a little bit longer. But it's always important to remember that in order to determine doneness of pasta, it's important to taste it. This is still quite crunchy. Another way to determine whether or not your pasta's cooked is to take it, cut it in half, and look at the center of the noodle and see if it has a white center to it. If it does, it's probably still undercooked. Besides water and salt, you just need a little patience.

Okay, that's it for our cooking time. You can see the pasta has swollen, it's soft, and now it's time to strain it. It's ready to go with the sauce of your choosing.

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