WHAT IS AL DENTE?
Probably the most disagreed upon topic in the culinary world is, “When is it done?” I have heard many people express that the term “al dente” means “firm in the center” for pasta and vegetables, while others refer to the term “al dente” as “just cooked all the way through.” The term “al dente” means “to the bite” and its most important feature is that it instructs us not to overcook our food. Though ultimately you are the judge of how you want your food cooked, you may find pasta that is not quite done to be rather unappealing and certain root vegetables such as carrots don’t taste as well when half cooked.
My recommendation is to experiment one day with some basic foods, such as pasta, carrots and green beans. Begin by cooking each item in its normal fashion. When close to being done, remove one piece and quite simply, “bite through.” Return to the pot, continue cooking for 30 seconds more and “bite” again. Repeat this process until each product is fully overcooked so you can gain a sense of “doneness” and determine which is best for you.