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Test Kitchen Tip

Boiling Pasta

The biggest problem people have with cooking pasta is keeping it from sticking together. Most tricks aren't much help. The fact is, pasta is starchy and it’s going to stick a little, but there are ways to keep it from clumping into a tangled mass.

First, bring a lot of water (at least 4 quarts per pound of dry pasta) to a boil in a large pot. The more room in the pot, the easier it is for the pasta to move around, preventing sticking. Next, when the water is at a furious boil, add a hefty amount of salt for flavor (2 tablespoons per 4 quarts water), then add the pasta. Stir the pasta often during the first few minutes until the water returns to a boil. Finally, when the pasta is done, drain and sauce it right away—it starts to stick as it cools. Contrary to popular belief, do not add oil to the water or rinse the cooked pasta. Oil simply coats it, causing sauces to “slip” right off. Rinsing eliminates the starches on the outside of the pasta, also preventing sauces from clinging.