How to Cook Pasta al dente
Pasta has to remain firm, but not hard, and it's definitely not meant to be soft.
Italians can be quite “obsessive” about their pasta and I am an Italian, so I'll give some helpful tips to create the best results. It is important that you don't overcook or undercook the pasta. It makes all the difference for a delicious meal.
First choose the right pot. For long pasta like spaghetti or linguine, choose a taller pot. For short pasta like penne, ziti or rigatoni use a normal size pot. Fill the pot 3/4 full with water and add a big pinch of salt. When the water starts a rapid boil, add the pasta and a splash of olive oil to the water, so that the pasta doesn't stick. Stir it well and often while cooking. Cook for as long as the package says to get “pasta al dente.” I usually have to taste a piece of pasta (sometimes a few times) to check its consistency (not to hard) . When you use Imported Italian pasta, follow the instructions for the cooking times, they are right on target.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it in a colander (do not rinse it) and serve it HOT with the sauce. Eat immediately! Pasta is meant to be eaten hot, unless you are making a cold pasta salad( that's the only time you would rinse the hot pasta under cold water, to stop the cooking process). Enjoy!