Spaghetti noodles are one of the best things to come out of Italian cuisine.
They are long and thin noodles, traditionally made from semolina durum wheat flour. But, nowadays, you can use any type of milled wheat flour to make spaghetti.
For a pasta recipe, you can either buy spaghetti from your local grocery store or make fresh spaghetti noodles from scratch at home. Speaking from personal experience, any store-bought pasta doesn’t even come close to homemade pasta.
In this article, we will talk about how to cook spaghetti, both packaged and homemade. We will also include a tried and tested recipe for making spaghetti from scratch. Let’s begin!
How to Cook Pasta Perfectly?
For cooking pasta, you need to pay extra attention to the time. It can be easily overcooked if left to boil for a longer time. The cooking times for fresh pasta and store-bought pasta are different.
Follow these instructions on how to cook pasta properly:
1. Boil the Water
Take a large pot that is big enough to submerge the noodles completely and has sufficient room to cook evenly.
Fill it with water and add salt to it. The general rule is that it should be as salty as the ocean! Pour some olive oil as well to ensure the noodles don’t stick together. To serve 2 people, boil 6 quarts of water and use 8 ounces of pasta.
Bring the water to a rolling boil. The bubbling water will keep the pasta moving in the water.
2. Put in the Spaghetti Noodles
If you are using dried pasta, then put it in the water and let the bottom part of the noodles melt. Then gently twist the boiled part and submerge the top part as well, using tongs.
Do not break the spaghetti in half to make it fit in the pan!
For store-bought spaghetti, refer to the package instructions for how long to boil the pasta. It is usually correct, but check the pasta 2-3 minutes before time to see if it’s done.
If you are using fresh homemade pasta, you only need to cook it for a minute or 90 seconds.
To test whether the pasta is cooked or not, take a little strand and judge it by taste and feel. The pasta should be al dente, firm but not crunchy.
3. Drain the Noodles
Once the pasta is cooked, drain it using a colander. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil to season, and give it a toss.
There you have it, beautiful al dente spaghetti!
Don’t rinse the pasta because it will wash away the starch from the noodles.
Pro Tip: Save about a cup of pasta water. You can add it to any pasta sauce to thicken it.
How to Cook Pasta with Sauce?
There is a large variety of sauces you can make that go very well with pasta. When making a pasta recipe with sauce, always prepare the sauce first and then add pasta to it.
Here are the steps to properly cooking pasta with sauce:
- Prepare the sauce separately from the pasta and heat it when the pasta is boiled.
- Start boiling the water to cook the pasta only after the sauce is prepared. Cooking pasta should be the last thing you do.
- If you are planning to cook pasta with sauce, drain it 2 minutes before it is completely done because it will cook with the sauce as well.
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add a little pasta water to the sauce for more flavor and adjust the consistency of the sauce.
Easy Recipe for Homemade Spaghetti Noodles
Fresh pasta is a lot more flavorful than store-bought pasta. This Italian staple is very easy to make and can be done in under an hour.
In the words of pasta legend Antonio Sakamani, you only need 2 ingredients for making pasta: good eggs and very good flour.
- 200 grams of flour – Traditionally, a combination of “00” and semolina flour is used, but you can also use Kamut or all-purpose flour.
- 2 eggs – As a rule of thumb, always use 1 egg per 100 grams of flour.
The quantities listed will be enough to serve 2 people.
Step 1- Sift the Flour
After you have measured the flour, sift it onto the kitchen counter. Sifting the flour is necessary to make sure there are no clumps because we want the dough to be smooth.
Step 2 – Add the Eggs
Form a mound of flour, and make a well in the middle by using the back of your hand. Crack the eggs and add them right to the middle. You can also add a drizzle of olive oil and some salt to taste.
Start whisking the eggs together with a fork and, with each motion, mix a little bit of flour from the edges until it is thick and no longer combines.
Step 3 – Knead the Dough
Use a bench knife to scrape all the flour and egg off the countertop and collect it all in one place.
Then, combine the flour and eggs with your hands and start kneading the dough. This is the most important step in making a smooth and successful pasta dough at home. Plus, it is a great arm workout!
You have to knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is tacky but not sticky. Next, make a dough ball and wrap it in plastic. Let the dough sit for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
Step 4 – Set Up the Pasta Maker
Cut your dough into 2 pieces. We will use one part to make spaghetti using the pasta maker, and for those who don’t have a pasta maker, we will use the other part to make pasta by hand.
Let’s start with the pasta maker first:
- Place the pasta maker on your countertop, put in the crank, and set it on its widest setting.
- Flatten the dough and dust it with flour, so it doesn’t stick to the machine. Then, run it through the extruder thrice. It will start to get long, so go ahead and cut it in half.
- Then, set your dial to 3 sizes thinner and run it through 3 times again.
- Run the dough through the pasta maker twice more. Only this time, turn the dial 3 sizes down, so the pasta is nice and thin.
- Dust your countertop with flour and place the rolled dough on it. Dust the dough with flour as well.
- Cut the dough into 12 to 14-inch pieces because that’s the desired size for spaghetti.
- Put the spaghetti attachment on the pasta rolling machine and run the dough through it. Make sure to dust the dough with flour first, so the noodles don’t stick to each other.
- And voila! You have your spaghetti noodles made from scratch!
Now let’s move on to making pasta without the pasta rolling machine:
- Place the dough on a clean surface or cutting board and dust everything with flour—the surface, the dough, and the rolling pin.
- Start rolling the dough until it is thin enough to see shadows through it. It will be done after 5 minutes of rolling.
- Cut the edges of the dough to make a rectangle and roll it up.
- Grab a knife and start cutting it vertically into pieces of your preferred thickness.
- Sprinkle some flour on them and coat each noodle with it, so they don’t stick together.
And there you go! You have successfully made handmade pasta noodles with homemade dough.
Step 5- Dry the Pasta
You need to dry the pasta for about 20 minutes, and there are 2 ways to do it.
You can hand it on a pasta drying rack, and if you don’t have one, go with the other option. Curl the noodles into a ball and let them rest at room temperature.
You can refrigerate the dried pasta for up to 3 days. Or you can freeze it, and it will stay fresh for 2 months.
Here, you will find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about how to cook pasta, and hopefully, it will clear up any doubts you might have.
1. How long do you cook spaghetti noodles?
The cooking time for spaghetti is different for different brands.
It also depends upon the thickness of the noodles. But, generally speaking, dried pasta is done after 10–12 minutes, while fresh pasta is cooked for 1-2 minutes.
2. Should you add olive oil to pasta water?
When you add olive oil to water, it creates a layer on top, which prevents the boiling water from spilling over.
Oil also prevents noodles from sticking to each other. If you are planning to add the cooked pasta to a sauce, then don’t add oil because it will coat the noodles and prevent the sauce from sticking to the pasta.
Spaghetti is a perfect last-minute dinner recipe. It can be cooked in 15 minutes and makes for a healthy diet!
If you are a budding chef, we highly recommend making fresh pasta at home using the recipe we have added above. It is a much healthier option in terms of nutrition and is tastier too!
You can always use store-bought pasta if you are in a hurry. Whole-wheat pasta is low in calories, high in fiber, and can be easily found in your local grocery store!