For a pretty presentation, scoop the salad into hollowed-out beefsteak tomatoes. Or, garnish the top of each salad with strips of roasted red bell peppers.
• Use a large saucepan or stockpot so the pasta can circulate freely in the water. It's also smart to use a pot quite a bit bigger than the amount of water specified, to prevent boilovers.
• Use 1 quart of water for every 4 ounces of pasta.
• Bring the water to a rapid boil.
• Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, if desired.
• Add the pasta gradually so the water doesn't stop boiling.
• Continue to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking during cooking.
• Packages suggest cooking times. Cook the pasta until it is al dente--tender but still somewhat firm. The best way to test pasta is to cool a piece under running water and then taste it.
• Drain the cooked pasta in a colander.
• There's no need to rinse the pasta unless it will be served cold.
• If desired, immediately toss the pasta with 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.
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