There are many myths about cooking pasta that simply aren't correct and yet they persist. Read on for a few that we would like to see disappear!
Oil in the Water
Don't add oil to the pasta water. It will only make your pasta slippery, causing the sauce to run off.
Rinse the Pasta
Don't rinse the pasta! Unless you're planning on using your pasta for a cold pasta salad, don't rinse it after draining. ( If you are using it for a salad, it is a good idea to give it a quick rinse to wash away the residual starch which will make it gummy and then toss it with a touch of oil, to keep it from sticking.)
If it sticks to the wall, It's done.
Don't throw your strand of spaghetti onto the wall to see if it is done. It's not a good indicator and you'll just have to clean your wall.
All pasta and sauces are interchangeable.
Most persons will toss together any shape of pasta with a jar of red sauce. Most Italians will not. Certain pasta shapes lend themselves to certain kinds of sauces. The weight, texture and the size of the pasta should compliment the sauce.
Don't drain every last bit of water off of the pasta. A little water is often good for the sauce and sometimes you may even want to add more.
The water must be boiling.
Don't be concerned about keeping your pasta at a rolling boil all the time. In fact, a new method for cooking pasta is to add the pasta to the boiling water, stir, bring it back up to a boil, turn off the heat, and cover the pot. The pasta will cook for the same amount of time as it would if cooked at a full boil.
Fresh pasta is superior
While it's true that many things are better when they're fresh pasta isn't one of them. Fresh pasta isn't superior to dried pasta, it's just different. Fresh pasta has a silkier, softer texture and should be used with sauces that compliment it.
Cooled pasta is better for mixing sauces.
Behind every great pasta is a great pasta sauce, and it's not just the flavor of the sauce that matters, but when and how the sauce and the pasta get combined.
Toss hot pasta with hot sauce quickly without rinsing it so the pasta absorbs more sauce and flavor. As it cools, the swollen starch in the pasta crystallizes and becomes insoluble and the pasta won't absorbs as much sauce.