It is the choosing, rather than the eating of it, that takes the most effort!
• Use high-quality brands: de Cecco, Rummo (sold at Sainsbury's), or Rustichella D'Abruzzo and Maratelli (available from Amazon and delis).
• For a starter, allow 85- 110g of dried pasta per person; for a main course, 110- 140g. Be more liberal if the pasta is fresh.
• Use your largest pan and fill it with approx. 4 pints/2 litres to every 170g pasta. Pasta needs plenty of room so it can move around as it cooks.
• Bring the water to a rolling boil before adding the pasta.
• Add salt (about 2 tsp). T his should go in just before the pasta.
• Cook the pasta at a gentle boil with the lid off - this allows it to "breathe".
• Make sure the pasta is al dente (follow packet instructions). Keep testing it towards the end of its cooking time by coiling a single strand around a fork: when it is done, it will have a slight resistance when you taste it.
• Match hollow or twisted shapes to chunky, heavy sauces.
• Match thin and long pasta to oily, liquid sauces (tomato, seafood or a light vegetable sauce).
• Avoid supermarket and non-Italian pasta brands, which tend to be of lower quality.
• Never cook pasta in a small pan.
• Never add oil to the water. Contrary to popular myth, adding oil doesn't stop the pasta from sticking to the pan.
• Never leave the pasta standing once you've drained off the water, or it will become soggy and unpalatable. Transfer to a hot dish or mix in with hot sauce immediately.
• Never buy tasteless ready-grated Parmesan. Buy Parmesan - Parmigiano Reggiano - in a block and grate at the last minute on to the cooked pasta.
• Never combine fishy pasta dishes with cheese.