With fall just beginning, I know I'm not the only one who wants to cozy up to a nice, warm bowl of pasta.  Whether it's ooey gooey mac and cheese, hearty and meaty pasta bolognese, or light and simple cacio e pepe---there's a pasta out there for just about everyone.  But, what's even more comforting is pasta made fresh!  Italian or not, all it takes is three simple ingredients and a little bit of elbow grease, and you have an amazing home-cooked meal that was simpler than you ever thought.  Here's some helpful advice on how to make your homemade fresh pasta with love and to have it taste as amazing as it looks.

1. Flavor Forward

squid, pasta, spaghetti, hijiki
Ariella Kuhl

One of my favorite things about fresh pasta is its versatility and incredibly strong flavor without the addition of sauce.  If you've ever heard of squid ink pasta---that's exactly what I'm talking about.  Squid ink is added directly to the fresh dough, giving it loads of umami flavor.  The same can be said about many other ingredients.  Puréed spinach, chopped parsley, and even some nut flour in place of all purpose all add great flavor and are just a few of the many ways you can change up your pasta flavor.

2. By Hand is Always Best

Sophie Breslow

If you've ever seen Bobby Flay work his magic on Beat Bobby Flay, you know that whenever he makes fresh pasta, he never makes the dough by hand.  A food processor is always his weapon of choice.  I am here to tell you that BOBBY FLAY IS DOING IT ALL WRONG!  Yes, you heard me right!  Using a food processor or a stand mixer, you could potentially overmix your dough, leading to gummy pasta, and who wants that?   Exactly: no one.  In order to get a truly good feel for your dough and when it's ready, you want to get your hands dirty and mix all the ingredients together on your counter or on another clean work surface.  Knead the dough for just a few minutes after combining all the ingredients together with a fork: just flour, salt, and eggs, by the way.  Could that list get any simpler?  Anyway, after kneading, the dough should be smooth and elastic.  Check if it's ready by lightly pressing your finger into the dough.  If it springs back at you, that means it's ready to chill!

3. Resting, Rolling, and Drying

Sophie Breslow

It's absolutely essential to rest and to dry your pasta.  After kneading the dough, resting allows for the gluten to relax, making it a lot easier to roll.  Wrap it up in some plastic wrap, and leave it sitting on the counter or in your fridge for about 20 minutes.

As for rolling, a pasta maker is a convenient tool to have, but if you don't have one, don't fret.  A rolling pin and knife (or a pizza cutter) work just as well with some extra pressure.

Drying the cut pasta makes sure that it doesn't stick and can be done in one of two ways.  If you have a pasta drying rack, you can dust some cornmeal on it, hang the pasta on there the same way you hang clothes on a clothes line, and let it sit for a few minutes.  The other way and my more preferable method is done by taking handfuls of pasta and twirling them into little nests, putting them on a baking sheet, and then coating them in cornmeal.

4. Cooking Time

Sophie Breslow

Depending on the type of pasta you're making, cooking can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  It's super quick, which is great but also really needs to be watched to make sure it doesn't overcook.  I even recommend to slightly undercook your pasta, as it'll allow it to finish cooking perfectly in the sauce.

5. Sauce Pairings

Sophie Breslow

While usually the type of sauce you choose can make or break a pasta dish in my opinion, with fresh pasta, it's not as big of an issue.  I find that fresh pasta carries a much better flavor on its own than dried whether you add other ingredients to the dough or not, so I don't particularly like to hide its natural flavor with a heavy sauce.  Something lighter like a cream sauce or pesto, for example, would pair great with fresh pasta.  Squid ink pasta might pair well with a marinara, and some parsley pasta might go well with just a simple drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  You don't need to add much to make the fresh pasta shine.

Fresh pasta is extremely rewarding and fun to make, and hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you be successful.  To help you out even more, here's a recipe to get you started.