Al dente Meaning
What does al dente mean?
Al dente means to cook foods to a tender but slightly firm state, but not hard.
The term is used to describe the doneness of foods, mostly pasta and risotto, but sometimes rice and beans or even vegetables.
The food should have a slight resistance (chewy) when biting into it, but should not be soft, overdone, or have a hard centre.
Simply al dente is Italian for ‘to the tooth” and is where pasta tastes and feels the best.
The pasta or rice is cooked to be firm to the bite and is cooked just enough so that it is neither hard nor too soft, and its texture is felt by the teeth.
Pasta Cooking Time Chart
To cook your pasta to al dente you can always check the pasta package for the pasta cooking time.
Do not rely on the package to give you the correct cooking time as it is only a guideline.
If no estimated time is given, follow these rules-of-thumb in our pasta cooking time chart, but be careful to check the pasta often for doneness as it cooks:
Remember to start timing when the water returns to a boil after you have added your pasta.
|Pasta||Pasta Type||Cooking Time|
|Fresh pasta||Especially egg pasta (fettucine, tagliatelle, lasagna).||Cook for 3 to 5 minutes.|
|Thin||Dried durum wheat (eggless) pasta (spaghettini, shells, rotini).||Cook for 6 to 9 minutes.|
|Dried spaghetti||Is generally 8 to 9 minutes, depending on the brand and thickness.|
|Thick dried||durum wheat (eggless) pasta (penne, ziti, tortigioni, trofie).||12 to 15 minutes.|
How To Cook Pasta Al dente
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Cooking pasta al dente is as easy as boiling water, but cooking pasta correctly is about paying attention to detail.
This guide will teach you how to cook the perfect pasta and getting that perfect bite.
- 100 grams pasta noodles
- 1 litre (4 cups) Water
Pasta Cooking Instructions
- Fill a pot with 4 cups/1 litre of water per 100 grams serving of pasta, cover it, and set it to Boil over high heat.
- When the water comes to a boil, remove the cover and add 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt (a little less if it’s fine-grained) per litre of water.
In terms of saltiness, it should resemble sea water.
This will season your pasta — and it’s the only chance in your cooking process to do so.
- When the water comes back to a rolling boil, add the pasta and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon or tongs to separate the pieces.
- Stir the pasta occasionally as it cooks, this will keep the pieces from sticking to each other or to the pot.
- A minute before the estimated pasta cooking time is up, remove a piece of the pasta to check for doneness.
You want an al dente, or chewy “to the tooth” texture — not soft, limp pasta.
Bite the pasta to check.
- Test again every 30 seconds or so, and as soon as the broken piece is a uniform, translucent yellow, drain the pasta.
- Toss the pasta in your sauce and serve.
Gordon Ramsay cooking pasta al dente
Cooking pasta al dente with Gordon Ramsay’s top tips on how to how to cook angel hair pasta.
These principles can be applied to cooking any pasta.
Pasta Cooking Tips
Cooking perfect pasta is easy — here are 6 easy pasta cooking tips to get you there.
Get perfect, al dente pasta every time.
- Get lots of salted water boiling;
Make sure the pasta has enough room to move around while cooking. You need a big pot.
- DON’T put oil in your water or on your pasta;
Adding oil to the water, or to cooked pasta to keep it from sticking will cause your sauce to slip off the noodles.
You’ll also end up with greasy pasta, yuck.
- Add the pasta and stir;
You don’t have to stir the whole time, just enough to keep it from sticking.
Tongs work well for this task.
- Slightly undercook the pasta;
Cook it until the noodles are still a tiny bit hard in the centre, just before al dente.
It’s generally 2 minutes less than the packages’ recommended al dente cooking time.
You will have to taste the pasta as it is being cooked to know when it is al dente.
- Drain in a colander and shake just until dry;
Once the noodles are no longer slick with cooking water, return them to the pot you cooked them in.
- Keep cooking with the sauce;
Add whatever sauce you’d like to the pasta in the pot.
Cook them together over medium heat, tossing all the while, until the noodles are coated and have absorbed some of the sauce.
That extra cooking time will get them perfectly al dente too.