Pasta may seem like one of the simplest dishes to cook correctly. Just toss some noodles in boiling water, wait until they're al dente, and then drain, right? However, even some talented and experienced cooks may make a lesser-known mistake that can significantly impact the quality of their meal.
The issue comes down to the size of the pot used to cook the pasta. People may use pots that are too small for a variety of reasons, ranging from a lack of an appropriately sized vessel, to a desire to spend less time boiling water, to simply not knowing the necessary volume for optimal results.
But this can result in lower-quality meals. Dried pasta expands as it cooks, absorbing the cooking water as it reaches the ideal al dente texture. Using a pot that's too small can lead to crowding and uneven cooking. In worse cases, the pasta may even stick to or burn the pot if the water level drops too low.
The Right Ratio For Perfect Pasta
For the best results, home pasta cooks should remember a simple ratio: four to six quarts of water per pound of pasta, cooked in a six- to eight-quart pot that allows plenty of room for expansion.
If you're guilty of squeezing your pasta into pots that are too small, you're not alone. This is one of the more common mistakes people make when cooking pasta. Other missteps to avoid include neglecting to adequately salt the water (the traditional guideline is that it should taste as salty as the sea) and rinsing the pasta after draining it, which prevents the sauce from adhering properly.
In many instances, it's also a mistake to cover the pasta while it's boiling. This practice not only makes it difficult to monitor the noodles' doneness, but can also lead to messy or dangerous situations where increased heat and pressure cause the pot to boil over. Anyone who has had to scrub burned saltwater stains off their stove knows that this is a chore best avoided.
So, the next time you cook pasta, consider using a larger pot. You may be surprised by the significant benefits that can result from this simple change.
Read the original article on Mashed.