Why should pasta be cooked al dente?

+95 votes
asked May 8, 2015 in Food & Drink by Matthew (670 points)
What is so favorable of pasta being cooked “al dente”? I just don’t like it that way. I think pasta is way too tough or chewy that way. I cook my pasta until it starts to break down (like pasta in some soups). So what is so important about “al dente” pasta? Is there a real reason or is it just a preference?

2 Answers

+18 votes
answered May 11, 2015 by Molly (1,330 points)

Italians eat pasta al dente. Since pasta originated in Italy, it only seems natural that it be prepared the way it was meant to by its creators. With pasta being an Italian food, other countries who serve it were taught how to do so by Italians.

The texture of al dente pasta is not soft (or “mushy”). Pasta is meant to keep its correct form, not completely break down like you spoke of in your description.

There is also belief that pasta actually has better health benefits when it is cooked al dente instead of cooked too long. The belief is that the GI rating of pasta is between 30 and 60, with al dente pasta being lower on the GI scale.

If pasta is cooked al dente, it takes longer to chew, longer to digest, and does not spike blood sugar levels as more-cooked pasta does. As I said, this is a belief. I can give you the reference I found this particular information on. If you want to check the authenticity of their claims, you should do so. The reference link is:  http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Al-Dente-Good-Your-Health-878080.

+5 votes
answered May 15, 2015 by myrna (850 points)
Why should pasta be cooked al dente? No! It is definitely a matter of preference. However you like your pasta, you should make your pasta. Pasta did originate in Italy and Italians do cook their pasta al dente. This is their preference. Most restaurants also cook their pasta al dente. If you order spaghetti at a restaurant and do not like al dente pasta, you will just be out of luck. My grandma worked in an authentic Italian restaurant and they will literally yell at you if you want your pasta cooked any way besides al dente. I can only imagine how these true Italians would react if they tried some of the canned “pastas” that the United States tries to pass off as a real Italian recipe lol.
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