It turns out that not only do you not need a large volume of water to cook pasta, but in fact, the water does not even have to be boiling... Fact is, when you are adding an equal amount of pasta to each pot, it may cause the temperature of the smaller pot of water to drop more drastically, but bringing the smaller volume back to a boil requires the exact same amount of energy as it does to bring the larger pot back to a boil. Since a burner puts out energy at a fixed rate, your pot will return to boiling temperature (212°F) at the same rate no matter how much water you have...Details and caveats at the link.
So the key is to stir the pasta a few times during the critical first minute or two. After that, whether the pasta is swimming in a hot tub of water or just barely covered as it is here, absolutely no sticking occurs. I was able to clean this pot with a simple rinse...
01 January 2013
Misconceptions about how to cook pasta
Everyone knows how to cook pasta. But until I read a 2010 post in The Food Lab, I held a number of apparently common misconceptions.