PASTA. Cooking pasta need not require oil added to the water. It’s more important that you use lots of water, and the pasta is stirred continuously from the time of insertion until past the initial melting stage (when the starch softens and individual pastas tend to stick together). Beyond this and in the presence of a roaring boil further stirring is not required. However, I like to add a couple tablespoons of oil to the water. Even though chefs tell you that it doesn’t touch the pasta, since it is drained out, I believe that everything in the pot, when drained passes through the water and the oil, and that it does make a difference.
If served immediately after draining, rinsing pasta is not necessary, but if you still prefer to do so (as I do), then rinse very quickly under just a little cold water. If you like to toss it with a little melted margarine or olive oil, this is the time to do it.
If serving family style, reserve the hot water that the pasta was cooked in by draining pasta over another large pot. Put the water on the stove to reheat while you serve and eat. If, by the time second helpings become imminent, the pasta has gummed up and stuck together in the serving bowl, take it to the kitchen; submerge it in heated water; redrain and return it to the table. Your guests should enjoy all aspects of their meal–even seconds.
In pasta salads as well as hot pasta and vegetable tosses use at least as many vegetables as pasta. If not, the blandness of the pasta will overwhelm the dish and you will see your guests searching through it for more flavorful morsels.
Regarding fettucini: Fettucini, a popular pasta, is not a recipe, but a shape. Translated from Italian, fettucini means tape-or ribbon-shaped, thereby classifying any flat noodle, regardless of the thickness, length or width as fettucini. Consequently, there is great variation in the market place, ranging from short, thin, narrow noodles to long, thick, wide noodles with varying sizes in between. Some are sold fresh; some prepackaged dried. When called for in a recipe where the dimensions are not given, take into account the other ingredients and select a noodle accordingly. Hearty, robust ingredients and sauces go best with hearty noodles; and delicate ingredients and sauces go best with delicate noodles.
Salting pasta. Always salt your pasta water before cooking pasta. Pastas which are not cooked in salted water are bland and flavorless.