Don’t Overcook the Pasta
Whether you purchase dried pasta at a grocery store or buy gourmet pasta products online from CyberCucina, its packaging usually has a recommended cooking time. You should follow the cooking time because it is usually right, but be sure to taste a piece often to test for the right texture.
Whatever you do, don’t overcook the pasta!
To get the best texture of pasta you have to cook it to the point that it is “al dente,” which literally means “to the tooth” in Italian. Pasta needs to be tender but it should still be a bit firm when you bite it.
If you cook it past the point of having a bite it will get mushy.
Some people say that one good way to test stringy pasta, other than tasting it, is to toss it lightly against the wall. If it sticks, it’s done!
Some pasta dishes can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated, or even frozen, until you are ready to cook them. Lasagna is the best dish to prepare ahead of time, but just about any casserole dish where the pasta is precooked and covered in sauce can be prepared ahead of time and kept in an air tight container. These dishes make for great party meals.
Pasta can even be cooked ahead of time and kept around for a little while to heat and use later. To do this, cook the pasta until it is just done then drain it immediately. Then, toss the pasta with a little oil and store it in an air-tight container. When you are ready to use it, simply drop it in boiling water for about two minutes just to heat it thoroughly.
When making homemade sauce that uses cheese as an ingredient, be sure that the sauce is not boiling. Grate your cheese finely and add it to the sauce a little at a time while the sauce is hot, but not boiling or it will curdle.