Ok, first, I have to apologize to Annabelle for laughing at her for trying to make spaghetti in a 1 quart sauce pan. Although I still think the pasta pan would have been a better choice, if for no other reason than you wouldn’t have to break it up into small pieces in order to fit it in the pan.
Harold McGee, author of On Food and Cooking, wrote a column in today’s New York Times on boiling pasta in substantially less water than the 4-6 quarts traditionally called for. He calculates that by simply reducing the amount of water used we could save 250,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil in the US each year.
I already add my pasta to the water when it is cold and allow it to absorb water as it is heating to a boil, keep the cover on the pot while said heating is occurring, turn down the burner once the water reaches a rolling boil so it is just high enough to maintain the boil, and save the water for watering plants after it is cooled. Sometimes I even shut off the burner after it has boiled a bit, cover, and let the pasta continue cooking in the hot water while I finish making dinner, depending on how rushed I am.
So far my penne has not suffered from any of these energy-saving measures. Guess now I should experiment with reducing the amount of water I use.
By the way, On Food and Cooking is a great read if you are a food nerd like me. All kinds of random information that can come in handy at cocktail parties.