In cooking, the Italian
expression al dente describes pasta and (less commonly) rice or
beans that have been cooked so as to be firm but not hard.
dente" also describes vegetables that are cooked to the "tender
crisp" phase - still offering resistance to the bite, but cooked
through. Keeping the pasta firm is especially important in baked
or "al forno" pasta dishes.
The term "al dente" comes
from Italian and means "to the tooth" or "to the bite", referring
to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness. The term is
also very commonly used as a name for Italian restaurants around
Pasta that is cooked al dente
has a lower glycemic index than pasta that is cooked soft.
One popular method of
determining if pasta has been cooked "al dente" is taking out one
noodle with a fork and trying it. Another popular method is
to throw a noodle at a wall. If it sticks, it is ready.