Few dishes rival the taste and texture of perfectly cooked pasta. Bringing your pasta to the state of perfection is not all that difficult, but it does require some attention so that you don't wind up with a soggy, overcooked blob.
All pasta cooking times are not the same. So how do you know how long to cook your linguine versus fusilli? For starts make sure you read the directions on the box. Pay attention and don't overcook. Stir often and about 2/3 of the way through the process take a strand or piece of pasta, run it under cold water and bite into it. Perfect pasta should be as Italians put it, 'al dente.' Literally translated it means to the bite. So the pasta should have a little resistance, but not be mushy. Make sure the center is fully cooked though.
An oft heard myth is that pasta should have gallons of water when being cooked. Not so, the ratio of water to pasta is important. For every pound of dry pasta you should use no more than a gallon to a gallon and a half.
Always add salt to the water. A good rule of thumb is about a teaspoon of salt per quart of water.
Just before the pasta is done, drain it in a colander. Do not rinse the pasta. Place in a large bowl and toss with your favorite sauce.