The next time you cook pasta, keep these tricks in mind:
▪ How to get the right amount: Measure it using an empty jar or bottle with a 1-inch opening. A spice jar works well. Gather a bunch of dry spaghetti (or angel hair or fettuccine) and place it into the jar so it fills up the diameter of the opening. This amount is ideal for two people. To get four servings, double it; to get one serving, use half that amount.
▪ Save the cooking water: Once you’ve cooked the pasta, it’s a good idea to reserve some of the pasta water to work into sauces or to thin them out. The starch in the water makes it great for thickening sauces. But it’s easy to forget when you pour it into a colander to drain it. To remind yourself, place a measuring cup into the colander when you start cooking. When you strain the pasta, the cup is in there waiting to collect what you need.