Al dente – how to cook Italian pasta?

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Al dente – how to cook Italian pasta?

“Al dente” is an internationally used Italian cooking term that may refer to cooked pasta or rice, or less commonly beans and even vegetables. It is used when the food is still hard but not firm, so that one can bite on the pasta or rice.

“Al dente” literally means “to the tooth” or “to the bite”, meaning that the pasta needs to be chewed because of its firmness.

How to cook pasta al dente?

The trick of cooking pasta al dente lies in using excellent quality Italian pasta and the required time for cooking. Italian pasta is usually made of durum semolina, the hardest species of wheat with very high protein content, which makes it always chewable, ie. al dente. The time required for cooking is generally shown on the packaging, I recommend you always adhere to this to get pasta al dente.

Some other tips and tricks that are believed to be useful when cooking Italian pasta:

  • Put the water to boil, and season with salt only when it’s already boiling.
  • Use a large quantity of water. Generally 4 to 6 quarts of water is recommended for one pound of pasta.
  • Never add oil to the water.
  • Cook the pasta only for the time shown in the packaging. This is generally 6-12 minutes for dry pasta, depending on the size and shape. Fresh ones are ready in 2-6 minutes.
  • When ready, drain the pasta retaining some of the cooking water. Add a few splashes of olive oil, cover the pasta with a lid and let it rest for 1-2 minutes in its own steam. For meaty sauces I usually add 1-2 teaspoon of unsalted butter instead of the olive oil.
  • If necessary, add the cooking water to the sauce to adjust its consistency.
  • Put the pasta on the sauce, mix it and serve

Enjoy your Italian pasta al dente!

spaghetti al dente

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