Believe it or not, I never, ever, ever buy fresh pasta. I always make fresh pasta at home. Why? It’s a ton cheaper, fresher, and all around better tasting. When I see fresh pasta selling for $7 per package, I chuckle. When I make fresh pasta at home, it costs me a little less than $1. And, I’ve been making it so long, I do it quickly and easily.
Let me help you master how to make fresh pasta at home
Overcome your cooking skills constraint. Just do it! You’ll see how easy it is and how unbelievable it tastes. If you mess up a little the first time, it’s ok. The second time will be so much faster and easier. If you can grab a buddy to help, even better! Pour a glass of wine and enjoy the process.
Let’s start with proportions. When we talk about pasta dough, we measure it in eggs – 2 egg pasta, 3 egg pasta, 4 egg pasta and so forth. A 2 egg pasta will yield 3/4 pound of noodles. When I make this as a first course, I serve 4 people with a 2 egg pasta, but you could stretch it to 6 people depending on your other courses. When I make this for my husband and me, I serve a big, heaping plate of pasta and we generally have leftovers for one person’s dinner or 2 lunch portions on another day.
I have found in the test kitchen over the years that the very best dough uses half unbleached all purpose flour and half semolina. You can really tell the difference by adding the semolina. When you are buying semolina, do not buy any that is course. Your semolina should be extremely soft, like talcum.
Eggs – please use organic eggs and if you can purchase them at a farmers market or if you happen to have a nice neighbor with chickens, these eggs are the best. You can see and taste the difference, so it’s worth the extra pennies to get the best. Trust me.
Now, let’s make the dough for a 2 egg pasta or 3/4 pound of pasta.
2 Eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup of unbleached flour
1/2 cup of semolina flour
You will combine 1/2 cup of unbleached flour and 1/2 cup of semolina flour on your clean counter. (Note: do not use a bleach spray or Windex to clean your surface because the dough can pick up the taste. Use hot soapy water instead.) Once combined, make a well. Crack the 2 eggs in a bowl and whisk. Add these into the middle of the well. Begin incorporating the flour slowly by grabbing flour from the inside. Do not just use one side because your well will break and eggs will run all over your counter. You have to grab a little flour from the insides consistently. As you do this, you will notice that the eggs start to get thicker and thicker. Keep going until you are able to break the well and incorporate the remaining flour with your hands. Knead for 8 minutes. Do not knead less than this amount! Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 30 minutes. During this time, get out your pasta rolling machine. Set it up so that you have lots of room to lay out your dough as you are rolling. Sprinkle a little (1 tablespoon) of flour into the rollers and underneath where the pasta falls. Set up 2 sheet pans with kitchen towels, sprinkled with 1 tablespoon or so each of flour. After 30 minutes, cut the pasta dough into 4 pieces. Set your machine on 1 and put the first quarter through. After it comes out, fold it into thirds and roll it again through #1.;At this point, roll the same piece sequentially through the rollers, changing the knob each time to a higher number – 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Generally, I stop after #7 for noodles and after #6 for sheets of pasta (lasagna/cannelloni). You should be able to see your hand clearly through the pasta sheet.
At this point, cut each long sheet into the length that you want your noodles. Take those sheets and run them through the back side of the machine. My machine cuts the sheets into fettuccine or tagliolini. Catch them as they come out and place them on the towels in the sheet pans. Sprinkle more flour over the top and let sit out for up to one day. Be very careful that you keep them away from the side of the counter where the dog can jump up and eat them – again, experience!
Once you obtain these skills, you can make fresh pasta at home very quickly. You’ll impress your family and dinner guests and enjoy the taste. Bon appetito!