Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Don’t overcook the pasta

So what could be simpler than cooking pasta? Well, according to Marcella Hazan in her standard setting Italian cookbook, “The Classic Italian Cookbook,” there is, quite a lot. 

The first step is to choose the shape of pasta you want to cook. The shape will determine the end result, according to Hazan. 

You also have to choose from fresh or dried, imported or domestic. The quality of the pasta you choose will impact the "toothy tenderness," she says. 

Now pick the sauce that also is related to the type of pasta used. Some pastas hold thin sauces better, some hold thick.


4 quarts of water

1 pound of pasta

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Bring the salted water to a rapid boil (the basic rule is that the water should taste like the sea). Add all of the pasta at once, not little by little. If you are using long pasta, use a wooden spoon to fold it over as it softens. Never break the pasta in half. Stir the pasta to keep it from sticking together, when it is all separated put the lid on, but remove it once the water has returned to a boil. Italians cook their past to be al dente, firm to the bite. Americans generally cook their pasta to a mush, way too soft for Italian taste. Marcella says, "The whole point of the pasta is its texture and consistency." Now drain, add the sauce and serve.