It's fun to experiment, but much of the flavor in any pasta dish comes from the sauce, or in the case of stuffed shapes, from the filling. The best way to prepare perfect homemade pasta is to keep it simple and follow these basic but important cooking guidelines:
- Use plenty of water. Four quarts of water for every pound of pasta isn't too much.
- Add salt. Don't be afraid to include 2 tablespoons per pot of water. Most of it will go down the drain, and the rest will give your pasta loads of flavor.
- Bring the water to a rolling boil not just a soft simmer. The pasta will be less likely to stick together, and the pot will come back to a boil more quickly.
- Cover the pot after adding the pasta. The water will boil faster, which will cook the pasta faster and keep it from absorbing too much liquid. After the water starts to boil again, stir the pasta to keep it separated. (In the case of stuffed pasta, use a gentle hand.)
- Don't overcook fresh pasta. Fresh pasta only needs a few minutes cooking time: That comes out to about three minutes for thin noodles and four minutes for thicker shapes. Of course, always follow the directions on the recipe you're using.