For most of my life, I'd been that weird kid that hated pasta. I would flat out refuse spaghetti and meatballs, fettuccini Alfredo freaked me out and I had to be convinced to eat mac and cheese (that wasn't Kraft). Unsurprisingly, when I made the decision to study abroad for 6 weeks in Italy, I was a little nervous about what I would be able to eat. 

After (begrudgingly) ordering Bologna's signature dish, tagliatelle alla bolognese, on my first night, I was shocked at how good homemade Italian pasta was. Not even halfway through the dish, I became a pasta convert. Homemade Italian pasta could not taste more different than the sad boxed spaghetti of my childhood.

Dreading my imminent return to bland noodles in the States, I was determined to learn how to make homemade Italian pasta myself. One week later, during a cooking course for my Italian class, I finally succeeded. Here are the 5 secrets to making homemade pasta that tastes so amazing you'll never want to eat at Olive Garden again. 

1. Pasta: So Easy Even a Caveman Could Do It

Kristen Siegel

Homemade pasta is one of those dishes that just sounds daunting, especially to a college student who regularly struggles with making simple things like eggs. In all honesty, though, the hardest part about making pasta with our instructor was understanding the directions she gave us in Italian. Here's the thing about homemade pasta: it's not difficult, just labor intensive. You only need two ingredients, flour and eggs, but from prep to plate, it takes about 2 hours to make. However, the unmatched taste of authentic Italian pasta is well worth sacrificing part of your Netflix binge for.  

#SpoonTip: Authentic Italian pasta is made with semolina flour, but the all-purpose flour you have at home works just as well.

2. You've Gotta Get Down and Dirty

Kristen Siegel

Another reason why homemade pasta so simple to make is that you don't need to track down any special equipment. Yep, that's right, all you need is a rolling pin, a knife, a fork, and your own hands. Some people will use a pasta machine to create perfectly formed noodles, but true Italians will tell you that the best pasta is rolled out and cut by hand. I soon discovered that things can get pretty messy pretty quickly, but when it comes to dough, there's no problem that can't be solved by slathering half a bag of flour on your hands. 

#SpoonTip: Our instructor used a spatula to scrape off any dough that gets stuck to your board, but a fork will work just as well. 

3. One Recipe, So Many Pastabilities 

Kristen Siegel

I'd always assumed that for each different type of pasta, there was a different type of dough. As it turns out, the dough that we learned to make in our course is the foundation for many classic pasta dishes - tagliatelle, lasagna, farfalle, tortellini, and more. With so many uses, it is a veritable swiss army knife of recipes. If you have a different type of pasta each night, it doesn't count as eating pasta for every meal right?  

#SpoonTip: Homemade pasta dough can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days, just make sure to let it dry out first! 

4. You Salty?

spaghetti, pasta, macaroni
Alex Frank

A pasta novice, I had never understood how a dough that had absolutely no seasoning in it wasn't disgustingly bland. As with many recipes, the secret is salt, but not in the way that you would expect. Rather than add the salt directly to the dough, our instructor told us to add it to the pasta water. Right now all you pro-pasta chefs are probably rolling your eyes at my ignorance, but Rita's wisdom doesn't stop there. Rather than add the salt as soon as you fill your pot with water (which will increase the amount of time it takes for your water to boil), add it once the water has reached boiling point. Same effect, less time spent twiddling your thumbs and waiting for your water to boil. 

5. Watch the Clock

Kristen Siegel

It's a been a long day, you've gotten distracted reading the newest Spoon article about Nutella while your spaghetti cooks, and suddenly you're staring at a pile of limp, mushy noodles for dinner. We've all been there. For a dish that is a college dietary staple, pasta is surprisingly easy to mess up and overcook. In order to achieve that ideal al dente texture, you really don't need to cook homemade pasta long at all. According to our instructor, your perfect homemade pasta is cooked after 1-3 minutes. 

Just thrown on your favorite sauce, pour a glass of wine, turn up Spotify's Italian dinner playlist and enjoy the taste of Italy from your own kitchen. Need some sauce inspo? Check out these recipes!

Buon appetitio, i miei amici!