If you love pasta but the results are disappointing when you make it, it’s probably an error in preparation. The good news is, this is an easy fix!
Here are 5 simple steps to cook it perfectly then I’ve listed dozens of recipes that I’ve handpicked from around the ‘net…some are quick & easy while others are a little more special and restaurant-worthy.
The two most important things you want to pay attention to are the amount of water you use and the cooking time…mess those up and the gig is up.
- Use a large pot with lots of water, bigger than you think you need. Rule of thumb is about 1 to 1 1/2 quarts water per 1/4 lb of pasta. You want it to have lots of room and lots of water. This one’s a biggy!
- Bring water to a full boil then add a splash of oil and a few shakes of salt. Oil is debatable depending on who you ask, but I find it does add something to the flavor. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta (Kosher salt is great). Once everything’s boiling hard, add the pasta and make sure it’s all covered with water and stir well. This one’s an important step too, if you add it before the water is at a full rolling boil–you’re not going to get great results.
- Stir again after about 2 or 3 minutes to prevent sticking. Do not cover with a lid, keep boiling with an open pot.
- Check the instructions on the package for cooking time and start checking at the minimum suggested time: take a piece out and bite into it. If it’s just right, you’ll know by biting into it–it will be slightly firm but tender (al dente), no crunchy or hard center. When it’s done, remove the pot from heat immediately. If it isn’t quite done yet, check every minute or so until it’s ready. Seconds do make a difference and when it’s overcooked it will turn out soggy, mushy and tasteless.
- Once you’ve removed the pot from the stove, immediately drain the contents in a colander. Shake to get rid of excess water, no need to rinse.
That’s it! Top with your favorite sauce or ingredients and enjoy :). Ready for some ideas? You’ll find over 75 recipes below, I’ve sorted them into groups for easier browsing. Enjoy!
- With Bacon & Peas: Ingredients include bacon, shallots, frozen peas (thawed), half-and-half, coarse salt and ground pepper. From Martha Stewart.
- With Tomatoes & Basil: Serves 6, made with minced garlic, small cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes), large basil leaves (julienned), fresh curly parsley, fresh thyme, crushed red pepper flakes. From House Beautiful.
- Spicy Crab with Truffle Oil: Ingredients include crab meat, garlic, fresh coriander, red chili (de-seeded & finely chopped), truffle oil. From Pig Pigs Corner.
- With Garlic Sauce, Fresh Tomato & Basil: Made with ripe tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, finely chopped red onion, garlic cloves, fresh thyme leaves, oregano sprig, chili flakes, sugar, grated Parmesan, basil. From Food Network.
- With Olives & Chicken: Made with chicken, olive oil, chicken stock (or champagne or white wine), chopped olives, minced garlic, juiced lemon, Parmesan cheese, sea salt and black pepper. From Everyday Occasions.
- Caesar Shrimp & Asparagus: Made with light classic caesar dressing (Kraft), shrimp, thin fresh asparagus spears, zest and juice of lemon, shredded Parmesan. From Kraft Foods.
- Carbonara & Spring Peas: Ingredients include an egg, double cream, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, fresh or frozen peas (podded), fresh mint and freshly grated Parmesan. From Jamie Oliver.
- In Asparagus Sauce: Yields 6 servings, ingredients include yellow onion, canola oil, garlic cloves, portobello mushrooms, asparagus stalks, juice of lemon, diced fire-roasted tomatoes (canned), Dijon mustard, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric powder, whole milk yogurt, roasted red bell pepper (diced), spinach leaves, fresh mozzarella balls, salt, black peppercorns, flat-leaf parsley. From Pham Fatale.
- With Shrimp & Lemon Butter Sauce: Made with frozen shrimp, dried rosemary, dried oregano, light butter spread and lemon pepper. From Measuring Cups Optional.
- With Tomatoes, Onions & Spinach: Serves 4, ingredients include yellow onion, dried oregano, garlic cloves, grape tomatoes, white wine vinegar, baby spinach, shaved fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, crumbled feta. From MyRecipes.
- Creamy Shrimp: Made with frozen peas, butter, shrimp, Old Bay seasoning, half-and-half, grated Parmesan and thinly sliced green onions. From Sunny Side Up in San Diego.
- With Mushrooms & Spinach: Ingredients include chopped onion, sliced portobello mushrooms, minced garlic, fresh spinach, snipped fresh thyme, shredded Parmesan and pepper. From Better Homes And Gardens.
- Beef Stroganoff: An easy to make, classic Russian dish…Ingredients: reduced-fat sour cream, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, all-purpose flour, salt, freshly ground black pepper, boneless sirloin steak (cut into strips), butter, chopped onion, beef broth, sliced mushrooms, fresh parsley (optional). From MyRecipes.
- Mushroom Stroganoff: Made with butter, diced onion, mushrooms, white wine, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, flour, light sour cream, whole wheat wide egg noodles and dill weed. From The Svelte Gourmet.
- Easy Parsleyed Noodles: Made with unsalted butter, chopped onion, fresh parsley (chopped), salt and pepper. From MyRecipes.
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken: Made with roasted chicken, frozen peas, garlic cloves (or bottled minced garlic), whole milk or light cream, slice white or wheat bread, shredded Parmesan and fresh thyme (optional). From Better Homes And Gardens.
- 3-Ingredient Fettuccine: Quick, easy & delicious! Made with butter, grated Parmesan cheese and fettuccine. From Martha Stewart.
- Creamy: Made with pouring cream, egg yolks, torn slices of prosciutto, finely grated Parmesan, sea salt and cracked black pepper. From Donna Hay.
- With Chicken & Pesto: Made with boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, olive oil, frozen basil pesto, heavy cream. From Martha Stewart.
- Turkey Skillet: Made with onion, celery, garlic cloves, canola oil, fresh mushrooms, fat-free milk, salt-free seasoning blend, salt, cornstarch, fat-free half-and-half, grated Parmesan, cubed turkey breast and shredded part-skim mozzarella. From Taste of Home.
- With Zucchini Ribbons: Ingredients include minced garlic, medium zucchini, all-purpose flour, low-fat milk, evaporated skim milk, freshly grated Parmesan and fresh parsley leaves. From Food Network.
- Chicken Alfredo: Made with grilled chicken breast, salted butter, flour, whole milk (or heavy cream), grated Parmesan, nutmeg. From Kitchen Corners.
- With Kale, Chickpeas & Tomatoes: Serves 4, ingredients include kale, chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and lemon juice. From Roti n Rice.
- Creamy Avocado: Yields 4 servings, prep time is just 10 minutes. Made with small Campari tomatoes (quartered), a couple avocados (seed and skin removed), peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, pine nuts, grated fresh Parmesan. From Flourishing Foodie.
- Goat Cheese, Peas and Prosciutto: Just 5 ingredients and made with whole grain fusilli, frozen peas, goat cheese, freshly grated lemon zest and thinly sliced prosciutto. From Whole Foods Market.
- With Roasted Tomatoes & “Hidden” Zucchini: Made with whole wheat fusilli, plum tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, grated Parmesan, chopped basil, grated zucchini (or yellow squash) and lemon juice. From Whole Foods Market.
- With Herbed Ricotta & Grape Tomatoes: Ingredients include part-skim ricotta cheese, fresh oregano leaves, grated Pecorino Romano, fresh basil leaves and grape tomatoes. From Good Housekeeping.
- With Spinach & Asiago: Made with minced garlic, roughly chopped spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, grated Asiago, grated Parmesan, salt and black pepper. From Food Network.
- With Squash, Chard, Walnuts & Pangritata: Serves 2 – 4, ingredients include an acorn squash, walnuts, breadcrumbs, red pepper flakes, Swiss chard, onion, minced garlic, thyme, juice of lemon. From Big Girl Small Kitchen.
- alla Caprese: Made with minced garlic, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and mozzarella (diced). From Food Network.
- With Shrimp & Peas: Ingredients include minced garlic, scallions, medium shrimp (peeled & deveined), frozen peas (thawed & drained), white wine (or water), freshly grated lemon zest, crushed red pepper, fresh lemon juice and watercress sprigs (or spinach leaves). From Martha Stewart.
- With Broccoli, Goat Cheese & Oregano: Made with purple-sprouting broccoli or broccolini, extra virgin olive oil, juice and zest of lemon, fresh goat cheese (crumbled), fresh oregano leaves, finely grated Parmesan. From Serious Eats.
- With Chicken & Pesto Sauce: Makes 4 servings, ingredients include frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, Alfredo sauce (jar), basil pesto, milk, deli-roasted chicken, milk (optional) and grated Parmesan. From Better Homes and Gardens.
- With Garlicky Breadcrumbs: You’ll need a slice of day-old white bread, olive oil, minced garlic, fresh parsley, fresh lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper. From MyRecipes.
- With Toasted Almonds, Parsley & Lemon: Made with whole-wheat linguine, Kosher salt, raw almonds, chopped parsley leaves, zest and juice of lemon, almond oil or extra-virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and grated pecorino Romano. From Whole Living.
- With Garlic & Mushrooms: Ingredients include Portabellini mushrooms, finely chopped leeks, garlic cloves, reduced fat cream, lemon juice and fresh oregano. From Simply Delicious.
- With Crab, Lemon, Chile & Mint: Ingredients include unsalted butter, olive oil, minced shallots, minced garlic, Fresno chiles, red jalapenos, or red Thai chiles, fresh lemon juice & zest, shelled Dungeness crab, king crab or jumbo lump crabmeat, fresh mint leaves. From Epicurious.
- Creamy with Blue Cheese, Arugula & Toasted Walnuts: Serves 2, made with arugula, butter, reduced-fat milk, crumbled blue cheese, walnuts and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper. From Bev Cooks.
- Penne Alla Vodka: Ingredients include whole tomatoes (canned), extra-virgin olive oil, minced onion, tomato paste, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, vodka, heavy cream, minced fresh basil and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. From The Cooking Photographer.
- With Roasted Asparagus & Balsamic Butter: Ingredients include olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, butter and grated Parmesan. From Food & Wine.
- With Asparagus: Ingredients include olive oil, Kosher salt, asparagus, fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable stock), grated lemon rind, minced garlic, freshly grated Pecorino Roman cheese. From BetsyLife.
- With Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce: Made with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, evaporated low-fat milk, shredded Italian-style four-cheese blend, dried basil, garlic powder and ground black pepper. From Very Best Baking.
- With Brie, Mushrooms & Arugula: Ingredients include olive oil, mushrooms, sliced red onion, dry vermouth, brie, baby arugula. From Smith & Ratliff.
- With Artichokes: Serves 6, ingredients include finely sliced onion, minced garlic, extra virgin olive oil, artichoke hearts (quartered), diced tomatoes (canned), chopped parsley, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. From Chicho’s Kitchen.
- With Tomato, Sausage & Pecorino: Made with sweet Italian sausage, olive oil, vertically sliced onion, minced garlic, chopped tomatoes, grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese, fresh basil leaves, salt and black pepper. From MyRecipes.
- With Sausage & Stone Ground Mustard Cream Sauce: Made with Italian sausage (or one of your choosing), stone ground mustard, heavy whipping cream, olive oil, crushed garlic, minced tarragon, red pepper flakes and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or Pecorino. From Showfood Chef.
- With Spicy Sausage: Made with whole wheat blend penne, sliced fresh mushrooms, turkey Italian sausage links, small chopped onion, spicy tomato & basil sauce (jar) and grated Parmesan. From Kraft Foods.
- With Roasted Red Pepper & Basil Pesto: Ingredients include garlic, pine nuts, freshly grated Parmesan, roasted red bell peppers (jar), fresh basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, heavy cream and roasted rotisserie chicken (optional). From Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom.
- Southwestern: Made with lean ground beef, chopped onion, chunky tomato sauce, southwestern style corn (canned), shredded Cheddar and sliced green onions. From Betty Crocker.
- With Spicy Chicken & Creamy Tomato Sauce: Ingredients include tomato sauce, cream cheese, zesty Italian dressing, boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped onion, artichoke hearts, diced tomatoes (can), crushed red pepper and chopped fresh parsley. From Kraft Philadelphia.
- Tomato & Spinach: Made with Italian sausage, baby spinach leaves, Italian-style diced tomatoes (canned), shredded mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan. From Kraft Philadelphia.
- With Asparagus & Snap Peas: Ingredients include asparagus, stringless snap peas, olive oil, onion, lemon, Pecorino Romano, basil leaves, salt and ground pepper. From Delish.
- Mediterranean Style: Made with panko, olive oil, minced garlic, Kosher salt, sweet onions, dry white wine, vegetable broth, kalamata olives, small artichoke hearts, basil leaves, sun-dried tomatoes and freshly ground black pepper. From The Type A Housewife.
- Creamy Chicken: Made with boneless skinless chicken breast (cubed), frozen vegetable mix (thawed), Neufchatel cheese, lite Italian dressing and 2% milk. From Family.com.
- With Broccoli, Peas, Basil & Goat Cheese: Ingredients include shelled snap peas, small shallots, organic broccoli, basil, goat cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, pine nuts (lightly toasted), olive oil and sea salt. From Healthy Green Kitchen.
- With Cream Cheese, Garlic & Spinach: Made with butter, minced fresh garlic, reduced fat cream cheese, milk, reduced fat sour cream, lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes, artichoke hearts, frozen spinach (thawed), Parmesan, chicken. From Heat Oven to 350.
- Weeknight Bolognese: Ingredients include olive oil, lean ground sirloin, minced garlic, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, dry red wine, crushed tomatoes (canned), tomato paste, ground nutmeg, fresh basil leaves, heavy cream and freshly grated Parmesan. From Barefoot Contessa found at Food Network.
- With Braised Winter Vegetables: (vegan) Ingredients include extra virgin olive oil, diced onion, minced garlic, finely chopped fresh sage (or dried), vegetable broth, dry white wine, whole-wheat medium shells (or other small pasta), bite-size cauliflower florets, butternut squash cubes, frozen lima beans (thawed), salt and freshly ground black pepper. From Eating Well.
- Spinach & Tomato: (whole wheat) Ingredients include butter, shallot, crushed red pepper, baby spinach, low-sodium chicken broth, half-and-half, grated Pecorino Romano, grape tomatoes and flat-leaf parsley. From Health.com.
- Spicy Tomato Pesto & Winter Greens: (whole-wheat) Made with sun-dried tomatoes, sliced almonds, grated Parmesan, chopped basil, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, onion and Swiss chard. From MyRecipes.
- With Escarole, Sausage & Cheese: Ingredients include escarole, sweet Italian turkey sausage, red onion, fennel seeds, sun-dried tomatoes and grated Pecorino Romano. From Bon Appetit.
- With Tomatoes, Black Olives, Garlic & Feta: Made with seeded tomatoes, black olives (pitted), crumbled feta cheese, drained capers, chopped flat-leaf parsley, salt, fresh-ground black pepper, olive oil and minced garlic. From Food & Wine.
- Ground Beef & Mushroom Carbonara : Ingredients include bacon, ground beef, sliced fresh mushrooms, small onion, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, whipping cream, eggs, grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley. From Betty Crocker.
- With Spinach Pesto & Turkey Meatballs: Pesto ingredients: fresh baby spinach leaves, garlic cloves, toasted walnuts, olive oil, grated manchego cheese (or Parmesan), salt & pepper. Meatballs: ground turkey, fresh bread (for bread crumbs), finely chopped onion, minced garlic, Marsala wine, diced dried apricots, diced dried cranberries, chopped baby spinach leaves, crumbled feta, an egg. From Inspired Taste.
- alla Carbonara: Made with extra-virgin olive oil, thinly sliced guanciale or pancetta, finely grated Parmesan, eggs, Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. From Saveur.
- alla Carbonara: Made with extra-virgin olive oil, fatty pancetta or guanciale, diced red onion, eggs and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. From Fine Cooking.
- Dungeness Crab Lemon: Serves 3 to 4, ingredients include olive oil, butter, chopped garlic cloves, fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, fresh Dungeness crab meat (or shrimp/prawns), lemon, salt and pepper. From Savory Sweet Life.
- Aglio Olio: You’ll need breadcrumbs, Italian parsley, extra virgin olive oil, diced garlic cloves, crushed dried chili peppers (optional) and salt to season. From David Rocco.
- Mediterranean: Made with whole-wheat spaghetti, olive oil, onion, garlic cloves, dry white wine, artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, cherry or grape tomatoes, grated Parmesan and fresh basil leaves. From Whole Living.
- With Lemon & Parmesan: Ingredients include cream, finely grated Parmesan/Pecorino cheese, juice and rind of lemon, Dijon mustard, freshly chopped parsley. From Simply Delicious.
- Oven Baked: Another collection here on Tipnut.
- Spaghetti With Garlic, Olive Oil & Chili Pepper Flakes: I tried it and loved it. Very easy to make, all you need for ingredients: minced garlic, chili pepper flakes, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. From Yum Sugar.
- With Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions & Goat Cheese: (vegetarian) Made with butter, olive oil, chopped onions, salt, sugar, portobello mushrooms, chopped fresh parsley, fresh-ground black pepper, soft goat cheese (ie. Montrachet), grated Parmesan. From Food & Wine.
- With Turkey & Black Beans: Ingredients include onion, garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, tomato paste, turkey (shredded), turkey or chicken stock, black beans (canned), lime juice, cilantro. From Paula Deen.
- Easy Mac & Cheese: Made with sour cream, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, heavy cream, salt, pepper, paprika and dried pasta of your choice. From Savory Sweet Life.
- Tortellini With Tomato & Bacon: Made with bacon, minced fresh garlic, diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano (canned), tomato sauce, water, frozen cheese tortellini, chive and onion soft cream cheese spread, frozen green peas and cracked black pepper (optional). From Hunts.
- Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce: Directly from the Olive Garden website.