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How to Cook Spaghetti

Posted by Denise on March 15, 2011

spaghetti on fork

Properly cooked spaghetti is so versitile and delicious!

 

I used to have a hard time getting spaghetti cooked to the proper doneness. I mean, it’s better to overcook it than to have it be tough and undercooked, right? Wrong, they are both bad. Overcooked spaghetti is too soft, has a gooey texture, and falls apart. I don’t think anyone wants a bowl of mush and meatballs! Cooking it “al dente”, meaning that it is cooked, but still has some firmness (not raw-ness) to it, is easy once you know how to do it.

I’m lucky to be married to a man who grew up close to his fresh-from-the-old-country Italian grandparents. His Grandma taught him how to cook many of their authentic meals. Cooking spaghetti was a given for him. Although he is normally the person in charge of cooking the pasta at our house, he taught me how so I no longer end up with partially raw spaghetti or limp noodles. And now I’m going to show you how!

Methods for measuring how much spaghetti to cook is as varied as people are. We make a circle with our thumb and forefinger and fill it full to prepare enough for four, like the photo below. A smaller “pinch” of spaghetti is enough for a single person. Believe it or not, I counted the strands to see how much a pinch is and it is between 40 and 50 strands. Remember, spaghetti expands when it cooks, so it goes further than you would think. If you think you may need more, leave the water in the pan after you cook the first batch so it is still hot and you can cook more, if needed. Just add a little more oil to keep the spaghetti strands from clumping together. The salt gently flavors the spaghetti and brings the water to a boil more quickly.

I prefer to have a sauce on my spaghetti, but Glenn and Andy like to melt a little butter over it and eat it plain. They especially like to do this on nights I have obligations and they are on their own for dinner. Around our home, it's a guy thing!

 

 

Cooking Spaghetti

As many servings as needed

 

 

 

spaghetti ingredients 

This and a pot of water is all that is needed.

 

 

  

Ingredients

1       pinch raw spaghetti (40-50 strands) per person for average appetites, more if preferred

4-6    Quarts of water in pot large enough to handle a rolling boil

2       teaspoons olive oil

1       teaspoon salt or more to taste, optional

 

 

Instructions

1.    Add water to a large pot, leaving enough head room to be able to handle a rolling boil and the spaghetti.

pot for spaghetti

We use a large pot to get enough water and allow a full boil.

 

2.    Add salt to water. Heat on medium high to get to a hard boil. While water is heating, add olive oil to pot. This will help prevent spaghetti strands from sticking together.

spaghetti pan salt

Amount of salt we use in the pot

 

olive oil for spaghetti pot

Adding olive oil to the spaghetti pot before boiling the water

 

3.    Add the spaghetti to the pot when it comes to a hard rolling boil. Add the spaghetti by placing it into the pot and leaning it up against the sides of the pot. Spread it around the sides of the pot so it won’t all clump together. As it starts to cook, you will be able to push the strands into the pot.

measuring spaghetti

Measuring out the correct amount of spaghetti. This amount will make four hearty servings (about 1/2 pound of spaghetti).

 

raw spaghetti in pot

 Spread the raw spaghetti out along the rim of the pot to keep it from clumping

 

4.    Cook for about 6 minutes and check for doneness. If not done, check each additional minute until it is done to your liking. We have found that it needs between 8 and 9 minutes for our tastes.

not quite done spaghetti

This spaghetti is almost done. See how it is still a little stiff?

 

perfectly done spaghetti

The spaghetti is done perfectly. It drapes nicely without being limp.

 

 

 

cooked spaghetti in bowl


 

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