How to Cook Pasta Al Dente – The Pasta Channel (video) with bonus Aglio Olio recipe

This is a very comprehensive video from The Pasta Channel on how to recognize quality pasta, what to look for, how to cook it, etc. She also includes a bonus linguini with aglio olio recipe (oil and garlic) that you can also find below. Great stuff! I've listed Giuliana's key points below for you to share or save along with additional resources and video links. Enjoy!

SEE ALSO: DeLallo brand pasta (web)

SEE ALSO: How Commercial Pasta is Made (video)

SEE ALSO: How to Prepare Pasta and 2 Methods of Adding Sauce (video)

SEE ALSO: Online Cooking School (review & video)


  • Look for the label: "Made with Bronze Plates" for pasta that has a rough, porous, sandpaper-like texture (sauce clings to it better.)
  • Imported Italian is best.
  • If you want whole wheat pasta, find one that is milled very fine so it "eats" like a semolina.


  • Use a really large pot with a lid. The more water, the better!
    TIP: Don't add oil to pasta water! It prevents the sauce from adhering properly.
  • Start with cold water. Once the water is boiling hard, add a heaping tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Make sure water is at a rolling boil, not just bubbling gently.
    TIP: do not add salt to cold water, wait until it is boiling.
  • Stir gently to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Put the lid back on and bring the water back to a boil. Watch to make sure it doesn't boil over.
  • Once boiling nicely, stir pasta well and leave the lid off to finish cooking. Start the timer once the water has come back to a boil. Stir occasionally.
  • Start tasting the pasta well before the timer goes off. Continue tasting until it is "almost" perfect. It should be al dente, or slightly firm but cooked through.
  • Reserve a cup of the cooking water to help smooth out your sauce.
    TIP: pasta continues to cook while you drain it and add the sauce so be careful not to overcook it!
  • Drain pasta in a colander but allow it to hold some water.
    TIP: Do not rinse the pasta. The pasta needs the starchy water to work best!
  • Add drained pasta directly to saucepan. Stir well to coat. Add in a bit of the reserved pasta water to smooth out your sauce if needed.
  • Transfer to serving dish, garnish and serve immediately.

Pasta with Aglio Olio Recipe 

  1. Heat 1/2 cup or so of quality olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. You want the oil hot but not smoking.
  2. Add 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed, to the oil.
  3. Add 2 red chili peppers, chopped.
  4. Cook together, stirring occasionally until fragrant. You can remove the garlic before adding the pasta.
  5. Add the drained pasta directly to the hot saucepan. Mix well to coat and allow to heat through for about a minute or so. Add fresh chilis if you want more heat. (optional: add fresh herbs such as flat-leaf Italian parsley and basil, even mint to taste) Garnish with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.(with 1 lb. of pasta, this will serve 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch, 8 as a side)
    Linguini with Aglio e Olio (garlic and oil)

    Rating: 41

    Prep Time: 5 minutes

    Cook Time: 2 minutes

    Total Time: 15 minutes

    Yield: 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch

    Linguini with Aglio e Olio (garlic and oil)

    This is a QUICK & EASY classic pasta recipe that is rich, spicy and very satisfying. Adjust the garlic, heat and herbs to taste. Works best with long, thin pasta shapes but you can use anything at hand. Reheats easily.


    • 1 pound (1 package) dried linguini (also good with spaghetti or fetttuccini)
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2-6 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin, (or whole cloves, crushed)
    • 2 red chili peppers, chopped (or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes or more to taste)
    • 1/4 cup reserved pasta water
    • 1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
    • A handful (1/4 cup) Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (you can substitute cilantro but don't use dried parsley)


    1. NOTE: The cooking of the pasta and the preparation of the sauce take about the same time.
    2. Put a large pot of cold water on to boil. (4 quarts or liters per pound of pasta) When the water is at a rolling boil, add a tablespoon or 2 of salt and add the pasta. Stir to prevent sticking. (no oil needed) Cook linguini according to package directions but test for doneness at least a minute before the end of the time on the package. You want it slightly firm (al dente). Keep in mind that it will continue to cook in the pan once it has been combined with the oil.
    3. Reserve 1/4 cup or so of the starchy pasta water for the sauce.
    4. While the pasta is cooking...
    5. In a medium saute or saucepan (cold) add the olive oil and the garlic. Turn the heat to medium and slowly "toast" the garlic. DO NOT let it burn or it will be bitter! As soon as the oil starts to bubble around the garlic, turn the heat down to medium low. This only takes about 5 minutes so keep an eye on it.
    6. OPTIONAL: Add 2 red chili peppers, chopped. (If using red pepper flakes, add them later with the herbs and cheese.) Cook the garlic and chillies, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. When the garlic is ready, the edges should be a beautiful golden brown color. If using large, crushed garlic pieces, remove them before adding the pasta. The oil will be infused with the garlic flavor.
    7. Add the drained pasta directly to the hot saucepan. (or add the oil to your pasta bowl as shown in the video) Mix well to coat the strands and allow to heat through for about a minute or so.
    8. Add in the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. If you want more heat, add a few fresh chillies.
    9. Remove pan from the heat, add fresh herbs and grated cheese (and pepper flakes if using) and toss well. Garnish with more of the freshly grated Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.


    With 1 lb. of pasta, this will serve 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch, 8 as a side
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