Most people screw it up. Let us chef-school you
You want enough water in the pot so the pasta doesn’t stick to itself and clump. So grab a large pot and about 450g of pasta and fill it about three quarters full with hot water (to help it boil faster).
Turn the heat to high and salt the water heavily, that’s 3 tbsp of good quality salt. Most of the salt will stay in the water, leaving the pasta perfectly seasoned. Put the lid on the pot so the water boils faster.
Drop and stir
When the water reaches a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir immediately. This ensures that the pasta won’t stick together. There’s no need to add olive oil – that doesn’t prevent sticking. Just stir occasionally throughout the cooking process.
Test with your teeth
Your goal is al dente – pasta that’s just tender but still has a bite. Boxed pasta usually reaches al dente about a minute before the package instructions say to cook it. The only true way to check: pull out a piece and bite into it. If the texture feels crunchy, allow the pasta to continue to boil. Taste again after another minute or so.
Pasta should never wait in the sink in a colander – it’ll go gummy. For a fast finish, place your colander in the sink while the pasta cooks and have your sauce ready and waiting. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water and drain the pasta. Then dump the drained pasta back into the pot. Add the sauce and reserved pasta water. The starches in the pasta water help the sauce cling to the pasta, creating a creamier, more flavourful dish. Stir well before serving.