Tricks to use when FIXING pasta: The next time you cook pasta, keep these tricks in mind. First, to make sure you get the right amount each time, measure it using an empty jar or bottle with a 1-inch opening. A spice jar works well. Gather a bunch of dry spaghetti (or angel hair or fettuccine) and place it into the jar so it fills up the diameter of the opening. This amount is ideal for two people. To get one serving, simply halve that amount. Once you've cooked the pasta, it's always a good idea to reserve some of the pasta water to work into sauces or to thin them out. But it's easy to forget to stop and do this, especially when the water that gets strained through a colander so easily goes down the drain. To remind yourself to save some of that water, place a measuring cup into the colander when you start cooking the meal. That way, when you strain the pasta just before you eat, the cup is in there waiting to collect what you need.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor