In Italy the expression “al dente” (Pronunciation: al-DEN-tay) refers to the degree of doneness of properly cooked pasta.
If you translate litteraly from Italian “al dente” means “to the tooth.” and it refers to the fast that when properly cooked pasta should be tender but not mushy and still firm to the bite.
There is only a way to understand if the pasta is “al dente”: bite it!
Some chefs suggest that when you bite into a piece of pasta which is cooked al dente, you should see a tiny white dot in the center of the pasta. For us this is to much…joking we say that in this way the pasta is “alla gengiva” (to the gengive!). So the right time is exaclty a second after you don’t see any more the white dot or when you bite into it and your teeth feel some resistance, but the pasta is still tender.
Pay attention with fresh pasta
Note that al dente will feel different with fresh pasta than it will with dried pasta, and fresh pasta only needs to be cooked for a very short time. Still, even with fresh, the cooked pasta should have some bite to it. In fact, making sure you don’t overcook it is even more paramount with fresh pasta, as you will have much less margin for error.
Tips and Tricks
- Pay attention with fresh pasta: only needs to be cooked for a very short time, don’t overcook it… also fresh pasta must be ”al dente”
- Remember: the time indicated on pasta package are often indicative only