Step 5: The Final Touch
Italians like to finalize the cooking of pasta directly in the sauce because it helps to blend the 2 together. It's a 2-way exchange ... as pasta absorbs the sauce, it releases starch which creates a creamy emulsification.
In a separate saucepan, heat the sauce you are dressing your pasta with.
Towards the end of the cooking time, scoop out a mugful of the starchy cooking water and set aside.
Tip. Everytime you cook pasta, always scoop out and set aside a mugful of starchy cooking water, regardless of whether you need it or not. This valuable water can always come in handy in case you need to add moisture to the sauce and it should become something you do just automatically each time.
In a colander over the sink, drain the pasta when it is very al dente. If you are cooking delicate stuffed pasta, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the water.
Why very al dente? Because the pasta will continue cooking in the sauce. For dry pasta, drain it about 2 minutes before the end of the cooking time on the package.
Toss the pasta in the saucepan with the sauce and continue cooking over high heat for about 1-2 minutes. If necessary, add some of the cooking water you set aside to prevent the sauce from drying out. Stir constantly.
When the pasta is al dente, serve immediately.