Why you shouldn't pour the pasta water down the drain. Plus four more tips for cooking perfectly creamy and flavorful pasta.
Salt the Water, Heavily
Salt the water as it's coming to a boil, using about 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water. This helps season the pasta. Also, make sure you're using enough water to submerge the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, get your sauce going. Use a large saucepan, since you'll be adding the pasta to it at the end. Add aromatics by sautéing garlic and shallots in olive oil as a base to your sauce.
Al dente means "to the tooth." In other words, you want your pasta to be slightly firm to the bite. Follow the package directions, checking the pasta about 1 to 2 minutes before the recommended time. Remember, you're going to cook it for an additional 30 seconds or so in the sauce.
Use the Right Tool
When transferring pasta into the saucepan, use a pasta fork, tongs, or a spider skimmer to remove the pasta from the water. This way you can reserve the pasta water and add it to the sauce as needed. This step is a must. Adding pasta water makes your pasta extra creamy. Start with about a 1/2 cup.
Toss with the Sauce
Finally, add the pasta to the sauce, tossing to coat every piece. Let it cook for about 30 seconds. Toss again and top with fresh herbs and fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.