Most of us don’t have time to roll out sheets of fresh pasta on a weeknight. Dried pastas are perfect to have on hand for quick dinners because they’re easy to store and cook, and high-quality options boast exceptional textures that hold up well to sauces.
Here are some tips for getting the best results with dried pasta:
| Salt the boiling water
Bring a large pot three-fourths full of water to a rolling boil. You’ll need about 5 quarts of water to cook 1 pound of pasta. Add about 2 tablespoons kosher salt to the water.
|Add the pasta to the water
Add the dried pasta to the boiling water all at once. Use a wooden spoon to push any strands below the surface of the water, if necessary, so all the strands cook evenly.
|Stir the pasta
Using the spoon, gently stir the pasta from time to time to prevent it from sticking together. Adjust the heat if needed to keep the water at a boil, but don’t let it boil over.
| Test the pasta for doneness
After 7 minutes, taste a piece of pasta. It should be tender but still slightly chewy, with a thin white line at the core. If not, continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes and test again.
|Reserve some cooking water
Spoon out 2 ladlefuls of the pasta-cooking water. This starchy water can later be used to adjust the consistency of the pasta and sauce after they have been tossed together.
|Drain the pasta
Put a colander in the sink and slowly pour the pasta away from you into the colander. Shake the colander just once; the pasta should still be slightly moist.
Check out some of Williams-Sonoma readers’ favorite recipes using dried pasta: