Cooking spaghetti properly should not be all that hard to do, but for some of us it is. Just reading the directions on the package does not always result in pasta that is pleasing to the palette. I’m looking, right now, at a package of Best Choice spaghetti which is made from 100% durum semolina. What’s that? It’s a variety of wheat whose kernels’ are very hard (durum is Latin for hard) that is turned into flour and then mixed with water. The dough is extruded commercially under pressure through small holes in metal plates to form long strands which are cut to length and then allowed to dry. (In my opinion, store bought pasta is better than home made for reasons which I will not go into here).
The directions on the box suggest you place one pound (453 grams) of pasta in at least four quarts (4 liters) of boiling water. They say to ‘add salt if desired’. I say you really should add salt! Sodium chloride, at the rate of about one teaspoon per quart, raises the thermal temperature of water over its natural boiling threshold of 100C or 212F. (By doing this the water won’t as easily drop below boiling when you add the pasta and that will help keep it from sticking). Also, stay away from adding oil to too little water (a trick often used to keep it from boiling over). The oil can actually interfere with the sauce adhering to the pasta and this can mean less taste.
The directions on the package then say to boil the pasta for nine minutes or until al dente (which in Italian means ‘tooth hard’ or soft on the outside with a little bit of a bite in the center). This time frame really should be closer to eleven minutes per pound in my experience. Also remember, old pasta will cook differently from new pasta, so it’s a good idea to fish out a strand from time to time to taste test. I usually start doing this about nine minutes in and the technique has never failed me yet.
Lastly, pasta should never be drained into a colander before serving. Once it’s cooked properly, it should be forked out of the water with a pasta fork and added to the plate wet and dripping. This adds more flavor to the sauce and pasta. You also salvage a few more amino acids in the process.