I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this. Everything you've ever learned about making pasta is a lie. I realized it the other day when I was at a cookout at a friend's house. I was helping him prepare a large batch of macaroni and cheese and he asked me to add the noodles to the water. After adding in two whole boxes of dry pasta, I realized that not only was the burner not on, but the pot was filled with cold water.
I panicked. My one job was to boil the noodles for the casserole and I had completely butchered it up. My boyfriend, being the optimist, waved his hand and said that they would turn out fine. And surprisingly they were the best-cooked noodles I've ever had.
Turns out my boyfriend isn't the only person who cooks his pasta with cold water. Alton Brown, chef, and host of Good Eats, lamented over the cold water pasta method all the way back in 2015 on his blog. According to Alton, he actually prefers this method of cooking pasta over the traditional method of boiling water then adding in the pasta. Not only does it reduce the cooking time (less time waiting for the large pot of bot water to boil) it also produces some of the best pasta water you can use to flavor and thin out sauces.
How To Cook Pasta Using the Cold Water Pasta Method
To begin, grab your dried pasta of choice, whether it be penne, rigatoni, or any other pasta shape. Alton doesn't mention using this method for long noodles like fettuccine, but other bloggers have, making it a solid option as well. Just don't use fresh pasta with this cooking method, you'll end up with a mess that'll make any Italian scream in pain.
According to Alton, 64 ounces of water (which is 8 cups of water) is plenty for a 1-pound box of dried pasta. Simply add the cold cooking water and pasta in a large pot, cover, and set over medium-high heat. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 4 more minutes until the pasta is al-dente. Remove the pasta with a slotted spoon and relish in all that carb-y pasta water you have for the taking.
The next time you realize you haven't boiled the water for pasta, don't sweat. Simply throw it in and impress your friends with your newfound cooking hack.