Handmade Pasta 101

Can I just say, I am totally proud of myself this week friends, i was finally able to mark making fresh pasta off my culinary bucket list! I was able to make it a few times and now I know it like the back of my hand. I still remain a humble student to this craft but am getting better each time I whip up a batch of this rich pasta! I love to make fettuccine but also have made tagliatelle and pappardelle with good results.

Why would anyone make pasta when they could buy quality pasta and save themselves the learning curve of Nonna’s constructive criticism! Lol! Well, Nonna was young once too, and in the word’s of your beloved Italian grandma ……”la pratica rende perfetti!” which means practice makes perfect. After all, we all have to start somewhere…am i right? Just give it a try, it’s not as hard as it looks and after a few go’s at it…you will be a pro in no time! I’m just getting in touch with the twenty percent Italian i recently found out I have in my Ancestry DNA results…i knew it! So that’s why I’m a sucker for all things pasta-reffic! I’m a melting pot I tell ya, diverse in every way and that’s why I love international cuisine because it is unifying.

Why not just cook pasta from a box? Well, I actually love pasta in a box as well! I love pasta in all forms as long as it’s a quality brand I can trust with my tastebuds! That being said, fresh pasta is made with flour & eggs versus flour & water and yields a richer flavor and texture. Have you ever had tortellini, ravioli, or even egg noodles? The flavor and texture is more pronounced and lends itself to an entirely more rewarding experience when dining…think pasta at its finest, gourmet pasta if you will. Fresh pasta is definitely a must try my friends. What techniques and tips do you use to make pasta and do you think it’s worth the effort to make fresh pasta?? Let me know in the comments and ciao amici!

YOU WILL NEED:

  • 2 cups all-purpose, super fine Italian (for silkier texture) or semolina flour (for more bite and texture)
  • 3 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

SERVINGS: 4

PREP TIME: 1 HOUR

COOK TIME: <5 MINUTES

STEP 1: Prepare your Dough

  • When making pasta, it’s less about measuring and more about the feel of the dough, so these measurements are more about a general ratio of the ingredients. Remember to do what feels right, it’s a labor of love, if you need a little more flour or less flour as your dough is forming then go with the flow. Add two cups all-purpose, semolina, quality super fine flour like “00” flour or a mixture to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Mixing the dry flour will help it to be lighter and incorporate together. Now make a wide and deep well in the middle of your flour for your eggs. Add three eggs plus two additional yolks to the center of the well, along with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Using a fork beat the eggs, slowly incorporating some of the flour into the well of beaten eggs. Continue adding more and more flour until a dough begins to form then take the dough on to a floured surface and start to knead it with your hands.

STEP 2: Knead the Dough

  • We need to develop the gluten in the dough which will give it structure and help it hold it’s shape, without it the dough would not form. Using the heels of your hands fold the dough into itself over and over and on all sides using firm motions. If your dough gets sticky continue to add small amounts of flour and continue kneading. You want to continue kneading your dough until it gets smoother, less sticky and more elastic with each motion and eventally becomes a smooth, round, soft ball of dough which takes around ten minutes. It should look similar to this but will eventually be completely smooth and round just keep on kneading.

STEP 3: Rest the Dough

  • Now it’s time to let your pasta dough rest. Resting the dough allows the gluten in the dough to rehydrate, relax and become more elastic and easy to work with. To rest your dough, take your pasta ball and firmly seal it in plastic wrap or in a covered bowl. Leave it at room temperature to rest for about thirty minutes to one hour. This is essential to a tender pasta versus a rubbery texture and texture is everything for pasta.

STEP 4: Your Dough is Ready

  • Now that your dough has rested it is ready to be transformed into fresh pasta and will be pliable enough to work with at this stage. Start by lightly flouring your surface and a rolling pin. Now divide your pasta into small sections so that it is easier to work with. Seal the extra sections with plastic wrap until you are ready to work with it so that it does not dry out. Sometimes I will divide mine into small balls about golf ball size in diameter, this allows me to work with each section section faster . At this stage you can add any seasonings or herbs to your dough while rolling it out. For this pasta shown I was making delicious lemon pepper & basil fettuccine and I seasoned it while rolling it out into sheets.

  • Take each section and firmly roll it out with your rolling pin, streching it out very thinly with your rolling pin until it is thin enough to see the shape of your hands under the dough.

  • Now take each thin sheet and roll it up like a long log then cut it horizontally down the entire log into 1/2 inch ribbons with a small, sharp, serrated and floured knife. Gently unravel each ribbon and lightly flour your separated noodles so they don’t stick together. This is the way I usually do it to make fresh fettuccine pasta noodles or tagliatelli. I have the best results when keeping the diameter small. I am still a student in the art of making fresh pasta, I still have a long way to go and more to learn but these steps have helped me on my journey. These are the types of pasta I have experience in making although with a pasta machine you can create many more with minimal effort. This is also great at this stage to freeze in Ziplock bags and cook for a few minutes in boiling water without the need to thaw, you won’t have to sacrifice freshness, just freeze all that goodness until a more convenient time!

STEP 5: Time to Cook your Pasta

  • While you are working on the prior step of rolling out your dough into pasta noodles, this would be a great time to start boiling your pasta water. Fill a large stockpot with salted water and bring to a rolling boil.

  • Fresh pasta cooks extremely fast…in about one minute to a minute and a half maximum, so keep and eye on your pasta and remember to taste for doneness. Once your pasta is cooked it is ready to season and sauce to your liking. Bon Appetit!

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