Making fresh pasta is quite straightforward, and if you have a taste for fresh pasta, it's much cheaper to make your own than to buy it. Once you master the basic recipe, you can also experiment with flavored pastas like sundried tomato pasta, spinach pasta, or lemon and pepper pasta. You can also use pasta dough to make ravioli, tortellini, and other filled pastas. Once you get going with fresh pasta, the sky is the limit.
Although you don't absolutely need a pasta machine to make fresh pasta, it will make your job a lot easier, and it will ensure that the pasta is uniform. Most kitchen supply stores sell pasta machines along with various cutting attachments and molds for making filled pasta. These machines are typically under $40, and well worth the investment, especially when compared to the price of packaged fresh pasta at the store.
Assemble your ingredients and equipment.
For every two diners, you will need:
- 3/4 cup flour; all purpose flour is suitable, although you can also use specialized pasta flours, if you can obtain them in your area
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
If you're using a pasta machine, clamp it to the counter and make sure that the rollers are on the widest setting before you get started.
If you are not using a pasta machine, you will need a rolling pin and a clean, lightly floured counter or butcher block.
Make the pasta dough. While show-offs like to make their pasta dough right on the counter, feel free to use a bowl. Mound the flour into a volcano shape and then make a well in the middle. Drop the egg and oil in the well, and add a pinch of salt and pepper. You aren't obligated to use salt and pepper, they just add a little extra zest and texture.
Use a fork to swirl the ingredients together until they pull loosely together into a dough, and then work the dough into a smooth ball. You may need to work by hand with very stiff dough. Then, break the dough into chunks and flatten them with your hand.
Roll out the dough. If you're using a pasta machine, run the chunks between the rollers of the pasta machine. Take the time to roll the dough through at least twice on each setting to ensure that it really rolls out. Keep the counter lightly floured so that the dough doesn't stick to it. Once all your dough is rolled out, you can progress to the next stage.
If you are rolling by hand, use your rolling pin to roll the dough out as thin as you possibly can. Remember that the dough will swell when it is cooked, so don't worry if it seems too thin.
Cut the pasta. With a pasta machine, select the cutting attachment you want, and run your rolled-out pasta dough through it. Hand-rolled pasta can be cut by hand or with a hand-held pasta slicer.
Lightly toss the pasta in flour and leave it in a covered bowl to rest while you prepare sauce and boil water to cook the pasta in; the cooking time is usually around three to four minutes with fresh pasta, so throw the pasta in at the last minute.
If you want to dry pasta to use later, hang the strands of pasta on a rack, ensuring that none of the pieces are touching. If you have especially long pasta, you may want to coil the strands so that they are easier to store. You can also refrigerate fresh pasta for up to a week, or freeze it for two weeks.
Clean up. Pasta machines should never get wet, so use a sturdy kitchen brush to brush down the pasta machine, teasing flour out of the nooks and crannies. Use a spatula to scrape flour off the counter and to push flour and crumbs into a bowl which you can empty into the compost.
Fresh pasta takes around 20 minutes to make from start to finish, which might seem like a long time, but once you taste it, you might decide that the process is worth the effort.
s.e. smith is a connoisseur of literature, adventures, and fine food who loves sharing knowledge with others and putting her otherwise marginally useful liberal arts degree to good use.