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This is something everybody must know� Most pasta takes just a little longer than five minutes to cook. The exceptions are fresh pasta and special quick-cooking

varieties like three-minute spaghetti or pre-cooked lasagne.

The amount of pasta you will need per person depends on whether you are serving the dish as a first course or a main course. As a main course, you will need about 4 oz (100 g) of pasta per person; as a first course, 3 oz (75 g) of pasta is generally sufficient.

To cook pasta properly you will need a good large saucepan, ideally with a lid, so that you can quickly bring the water back to the boil once the pasta has been put in. A large pot is important because the pasta needs plenty of water to absorb the starch it will give off and so prevent it from sticking together. You should never use less than 4 quarts (2 liters) of water in total, even if you are only cooking a small amount of pasta.

Bring the water to a fast boil and then add two heaped teaspoons of salt for every quart (1 liter) of water. The salt will give the pasta flavor. When the water is boiling furiously, add the pasta all at once. Bring the water back to the boil, give it a stir and leave the pasta to cook. Stir it a few more times during the cooking process, to make sure it is not sticking.

Cooking times:

Cooking times is an important item to consider when learning how to cook pasta since different shapes and makes of pasta will require different cooking times.

Thin strands like spaghetti or linguine will generally take about seven minutes, chunkier shapes like rigatoni or fusilli a little longer. However, exact cooking times will vary from brand to brand.

Follow the time advised on the package, but start testing the pasta before the end of the recommended cooking time. Fish a piece out with a fork or draining spoon, let it cool and then bite it. It should not be hard and starchy (undercooked) or limp and bodiless (overcooked).

The aim is for the pasta to be �al dente� (literally “to the tooth”) – firm and offering a little resistance to the bite.

If in doubt, always be on the side of undercooking, and remember that, even with the heat turned off, if the pasta is left to sit in the pan, it will continue to cook until the water has cooled. So, if you want to stop the cooking process, drain the pasta.

Draining and dressing:

One more thing about How to cook Pasta…As soon as the pasta is done, drain it into a colander and give it a few shakes to remove excess water. Never rinse the pasta – the coating of starch released during cooking helps the sauce cling to it.

Place the drained pasta in a serving dish, or back in the pan while you combine it with the sauce. Do not let it sit undressed; otherwise it will begin to stick together. You can add a little olive oil or a few spoonfuls of the cooking water to keep it moist.

Toss the pasta with the sauce thoroughly, so that it is well coated but not swamped. Pasta is not just a platform for sauce. The pleasure of a good pasta dish lies in the combination of the sauce with the taste and texture of the pasta!!

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