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Everything You Need to Know About Cooking Pasta

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: How to stretch, salt, and sauce your way to the perfect pasta. 

Pici Pasta with Dandelion Greens

Pasta is rightfully hailed as the king of easy entertaining and weeknight dinners. It’s unselfishly forgiving, graciously accepting our pantry want-nots and fridge mavericks to become a hearty, filling meal. But when we’re craving pasta -- really craving it -- we want it to be good. We want salted, tender noodles with a giving bite, a sauce that doesn’t slip off of them, and a final dish that won't leave us wishing for anything more. 

So whether you're looking for a show-stopping dish to please a crowd, or just looking for a better weeknight pasta, we’ve rounded up the best pasta practices we know. Here’s to the quest for the perfect pasta.

Perfect Your Weeknight Pasta

  • First, pick your pasta. If it's a busy weeknight or you're on a tight budget, go with a dried, boxed pasta -- just be sure to treat it right.

More: Ramp up the flavor with a seasonal boxed pasta. 

How to Make Pasta From Scratch How to Make Pasta From Scratch

Beet Ravioli

How to Salt Pasta Water How to Cook Pasta

  • It's time to cook your pasta. Before it even enters the pot, be sure to generously salt your water -- no less than 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt per pound of pasta.
  • Then, cook your pasta using one of these three methods (one of them takes just 60 seconds!), until the noodles have the texture of a fresh stick of gum. 

How to Make Tomato Sauce from Canned Tomatoes

A penne for your thoughts -- what are your tips for making the best pasta?

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: Sauce, Pasta, Tips & Techniques, DIY Food, How-To & Diy, Kitchen Confidence