Pasta should be cooked till firm to the bite.
I knew about this word Al Dente only in recent years. Before this, I have been overcooking my pasta. Oops!
There are many ways to describe Al Dente. I found this description from busycooks.about.com to be most appropriate – Al Dente refers to the desired texture of cooked pasta in Italian cooking. It literally means “to the tooth”. When the pasta is cooked al dente, there should be a slight resistance in the center when the pasta is chewed.
There are many recipes out there to help us achieve it but the problem is cooking time varies for different types of pasta. For example spaghetti no.3 and no.5 needs different timings to cook. It also depends if the pasta will be thrown into sauce over fire and continue the cooking process or is it going to be mix into raw egg sauce.
As a start, an easy way is to follow the suggested timing on the cooking instruction of the pack which turns out to be rather accurate. What’s important is to bring enough salt water to the boil before putting in the pasta.