Basic Pasta Cooking Guidelines

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Getting your pasta just right can be tricky. If it's overcooked, you have a big pile of mush. If it's undercooked, you get bits of hard, dried noodles. Neither is appetizing or pleasant to eat. If you are trying to cook the perfect pasta, there are some basic pasta cooking guidelines that will help get you there.

Before you even start cooking, you have to pick out your pasta. If you have ever really looked at the variety of pasta that is available on your supermarket shelves, you may be wondering about the wide array of shapes, sizes and colors. The versatility and variety of pasta-centered recipes is nearly limitless, since pasta is one of the most popular food choices in the world.

There are so many different ways that pasta can be served. Pasta can be used to create the most eloquent meal or used to whip up something quick and easy that you throw together after a long day of work. Certain types of pasta work best in certain dishes, depending on the type of sauce and other ingredients you are using.

Pasta and Sauces

  • Olive Oil-Based Sauces - Work best with longer pastas such as spaghetti, linguine or tagliatelle.
  • Cream Sauces or Bolognaise - Best with thicker pasta such as fettuccine or tagliatelle.
  • Sauces with Texture (Lumps) - Best with shaped pastas such as fusilli (twisted pasta) or conchiglle (shell-shaped pasta).
  • Thick and Chunky Sauces - Best with short, tube-like pasta such as rigatoni, cavatappi or penne.

If you are also mixing vegetables in with your pasta, they will blend better if you cut the vegetables into long, thin strings rather than chunks.