- 1 pound of pasta
- 4 quarts of water
- A tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt - optional
- A big pot
- A slotted spoon with a long handle
- A colander or sieve
- Put the water in the large pot and set it on the stove. Add the salt and turn the heat up to high.
- The Italians say the water should boil "fiercely" before you pour in the dry pasta. Mom turns the heat off temporarily so we can put the pasta in without burning ourselves on the flame. But we will still have to be careful of the steam rising out of the pot because it can burn as well. Cook the pasta uncovered, since it will often boil over if it has a lid. How long you cook the pasta will depend on its shape. Skinny pasta will cook really fast, the twisty little rotini take longer. Check the package. It should tell you the right amount of time.
- Have an adult start checking the pasta when it's been boiling about 8 minutes. They should fish a few pieces of pasta out of the boiling water and put them in a colander or a sieve.
- Run a little cold water on pasta before you taste it to cool it off. We like pasta to be "al dente," which in Italian means "to the tooth." You're testing the pasta with your teeth. You want it to be soft but with a little firmness - not crunchy and not soggy.
- When your pasta is ready, turn the heat off. The pasta will need to be drained immediately. Even if you turn off the heat under the pot, the pasta will continue to cook in the hot water.
- Have an adult pour the water and pasta into the colander. Shaking the colander slightly will get a little more of the water to tumble out. This is important if you don't want your sauce or pesto to get soupy.
- Put the pasta in a bowl and carry it to the table. Keeping the pasta and sauce separate will let everyone choose just how much of each they want on their plate.