The Culinary Dictionary: What does al dente mean?
Al dente: /al ˈdɛn.te/
“The classic Italian way of cooking pasta to still be firm to the bite.”
Ask any Italian cuisine kingpin, chef or pasta aficionado and they’ll argue that the finest way to cook pasta is “al dente”. Translating directly from Italian to English as “to the tooth”, cooking al dente means leaving pasta tender but still firm to the bite. Leaning towards the undercooked end of the scale, al dente avoids butchering the classic Italian ingredient with overcooking.
When cooking al dente, times differ between fresh and dried pasta to achieve the desired “firm to the bite” results, with fresh pasta only needing a few minutes. Italian cuisine virtuosos and experts in the al dente field, Prezzo have perfected al dente with a simple three step method. The Italian restaurant dished out their three simple steps to cooking pasta al dente for us. So, your next dinner party can have all the charm, texture and flavour of an authentic Italian backstreet restaurant.
3 simple steps to cooking al dente pasta from Prezzo.
1) Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Salt adds flavour to the pasta, removes some sticky starch and makes cooking al dente easier.
2) Boil your pasta in an uncovered pan for around 6 – 7 minutes if it’s dried and 2-3 if it’s fresh. Stir occasionally to avoid pasta sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cooking time will also depend on pasta shape and size. If still too crunchy or hard when testing, continue to cook and check pasta at 30 second intervals until firm without crunch.
3) Drain your pasta in a colander and shake gently to remove excess water. Drizzle a little olive oil to prevent pasta sticking together and voila. Perfectly cooked al dente pasta.
Al dente pasta dishes to try from the Prezzo menu.
For the pasta aficionados who prefer to be wined and dined rather than try their hand at cooking al dente themselves, there’s Prezzo’s menu. From classically rich spaghetti Bolognese dishes to vegetarian dishes scattered with fresh greens, the Italian restaurant have a myriad of al dente pasta dishes to choose from. And with gourmet society, you can enjoy 25% off the bill, including drinks, at hundreds of Prezzo restaurants across the UK. Discover our favourite al dente pasta dishes from the Prezzo menu below.
A traditional Bolognese featuring slow-cooked minced beef mixed with carrots, celery, tomato and a dash of red wine to add a gorgeously rich, indulgent flavour. Served on top of al dente spaghetti pasta, garnished with fresh parsley and gratings of Italian hard cheese. Perfect hearty, winter warmer. Perfect paired with: A glass of Merlot.
Pesto & Pea Penne.
Devour a classic vegetarian pasta dish. Sweet peas drizzled with fresh lemon juice for a soft citrus zing combined with freshly sliced mint and a healthy dollop of basil pesto. A creamy burrata mozzarella is the perfect finishing touch alongside al dente penne pasta. Perfect paired with: A glass of cold Peroni or Citrus cooler mocktail.
King Prawn Spaghetti.
Succulent king prawns cooked in a rich, tomato pomodoro sauce with a good helping of garlic, sautéed red onions and freshly sliced red chilli for a subtle kick of heat. Sat atop al dente spaghetti and finished with half a grilled red chilli for extra spice. Perfect paired with: A glass of sweet rose or Prezzo’s Signature G&T.