Buying your pasta is really a big deal because all pastas are NOT created equal. There are some really good brands out there, and some not so good. My favorite brands are Garafalo, De Cecco, and Barilla pasta. Wal Mart has some pastas that have Francis Ford Copalla’s name on them that are made on the old bronze dies that are really good as well. Generally speaking, the longer it takes the pasta to cook, the better quality it tends to be. So if you were comparing two packages of penne and one said to cook for 8 minutes and the other said to cook for 11 minutes, the second one is the one you want.
There is no trick to cooking pasta, but here are a few pointers.
1) Add about 3 tablespoons of salt to one gallon of boiling water per pound of pasta
2) Stir that pasta every couple of minutes to avoid having it lump and stick together.
3) DO NOT RINSE! The starches on your pasta will help the sauce hold and cling.
4) Always add your pasta to the sauce and toss it well. Nothing screams amateur like an anemic plate of boiled noodles with a little spot of spaghetti sauce on top. Instead, put a few cups of sauce in the bottom of the pan, add your spaghetti and toss it around. You can add more if you like extra.