We’ll put our cards on the table and say cooking spaghetti is simple. However, there’s an art (and a little science) to that simplicity that can take your spaghetti into a whole different league.
So, sit back, read on, and discover the hints, tricks and top tips to making the nation’s favourite pasta perfect.
what pot should you cook spaghetti in?
When it comes to spaghetti the bigger the pot the better. Spaghetti loves plenty of room to move around, and a large pot allows the heat to circulate and cook your spaghetti evenly.
Big pans can be heavy. Choose aluminum ones so that cooking your spaghetti doesn’t turn your kitchen into a gym. Try to choose one with two insulated handles to make draining safe and simple.
how much water do you need for spaghetti?
Should my pasta swim in a sea?
Since you’ve got a nice big pot, you don’t need to skimp on the water – which is just how your spaghetti likes it. Spaghetti can only mingle freely if it’s entirely immersed and surrounded by H2O.
The general rule is a good litre of water for every 100g of spaghetti, ensuring you have a decent amount of space at the top to avoid the risk of boiling over.
Also, because we’re all about saving water, reserve as much of your starchy spaghetti water as possible to add to your cooking or sauces.
should i break my spaghetti before cooking?
To break or not to break?
Some people snap their spaghetti in half to stop it sticking out of the pan. This causes shudders from Milan to Sicily.
Get a bigger pot!
Spaghetti is made to twirl and swirl and wrap around itself. All that twirling makes sure it’s all tangled up, keeping it securely on your fork and still covered in all that delicious sauce.
This is one of those rules that’s not there to be broken!
how do you measure the right amount of spaghetti to cook?
Getting the measure of your spaghetti
How much spaghetti to put in seems obvious. It’s normally there on the side of the pasta pack and usually around 75-80g. But then you’re not sure and add some more for the pot - or for luck.
Well, spaghetti measuring anxiety is now a thing of the past. Simply bend your index finger to your thumb so the hole is the size of a £1 coin and use that to measure out a single portion.
Do you salt pasta water before it boils?
Some salt with that?
Yes. The Italian’s have a word for not salting pasta water. It’s sciocca, which means silly, and nobody wants that. Pour in at least a tablespoon of salt as your water reaches a rolling boil and before you put in the spaghetti.
The boiling water helps dissolve the salt quickly, allowing the spaghetti to absorb the salty water, beautifully bringing out its flavour. Any salt will do.
how do you stop spaghetti from sticking?
Avoid a sticky situation
Once spaghetti is in boiling water it releases starch, and that’s a clumping situation about to happen.
To avoid it, quickly add your spaghetti in batches and immediately stir with a wooden spoon to separate the strands. Once it’s cooking, stir another two to three times, taking advantage of that big pot with plenty of water.
Don’t bother adding oil as it simply floats to the top. Which is a waste of good oil!
**PRO TIP: ZENB Spaghetti cooks quicker than most at around five mins or so - be sure to keep on stirring to avoid clumps!
how to know when spaghetti is al dente
Timing is everything
And the key to perfect timing is taste. How long your spaghetti cooks really depends on how firm you like it. Most spaghetti, like our ZENB 100% Yellow Pea Spaghetti, will take 8-10 minutes. But the key is taste, taste, and taste again.
Add it when the water is boiling furiously, turn down the heat and wait for it to simmer. About two minutes before the earlier cooking time, fish out a single strand, let it cool and try it.
The classic Italian texture is al dente, or ‘to the tooth’. It’s cooked but has a ‘bite’ and if you cut the strand in half you’ll see a little white dot.
Keep tasting until it’s the perfect texture for you.
what kind of sauce goes with spaghetti?
Let’s get saucy!
As soon as your spaghetti is cooked to your perfection drain it in a colander. Don’t rinse, or you’ll lose the starchy exterior that helps sauce cling.
And what should that sauce be? Bolognese is a classic pairing with spaghetti and it’s wonderful. But spaghetti’s long narrow nature makes it perfect for more delicate, light sauces such as seafood, cream or oil based. It’s delicious with Marinara and aglio e olio, which is simply garlic and oil.
And, of course, our plant-based range of Gourmet Sauces, with their vibrant blend of vegetables, herbs and seasonings, were created to be the perfect partner for all our pasta shapes.
how do you store cooked spaghetti?
Let’s reduce food waste together
Whether you forgot the size of a £1 coin or were simply batch cooking your pasta, the good news is that it’s simple to store.
Just drain, cool and portion into airtight containers. It’ll happily keep for three days in the fridge or up to three months in your freezer, mixed with a tablespoon of olive oil.
To cook from the fridge just drop it into boiling water for a minute, or three minutes from the freezer.
what are your favourite spaghetti recipes?
You won’t regret trying these at home…
And now if you’re feeling like a seasoned spaghetti-cooking expert, why not try your hand at one of our simple and delicious spaghetti recipes, such as fresh and zesty Spaghetti al Tono, quick and easy Spaghetti Bolognese, or wonderfully rich Spaghetti Puttanesca.