Making homemade pasta in Italy is an ancient art: from the fresh pasta sheet you get tagliolini or tagliatelle, ravioli or tortellini and the everlasting lasagna. It does not take long to make a good fresh homemade pasta: 15-20 minutes for a nice smooth and elastic dough, 30 minutes of rest, 15 minutes to roll out… in about 1 hour fresh homemade pasta is ready!
In this article we will tell you how to make homemade pasta, what are the tricks to keep it from drying out, which is the best way to roll out the dough.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE PASTA
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Homemade Pasta is something everyone should make at least once in their lifetime. I’m sure 99% of us cook the basic dried pasta that comes in a box. There’s no harm in that. I do it myself! But once you make your own homemade pasta, you’ll realize how much different store bought dried pasta, and even the fresh pasta from the store really is!
Think about how delicious some basil meatballs with a rich homemade pasta sauce would taste on top of this pasta? Fettucine Alfredo made with homemade pasta and a rich garlic infused homemade Alfredo sauce. Yes please. How about some butternut squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce? Yep – I made that with my homemade pasta. Can you imagine how much better a tender pork marsala would taste over homemade pasta? You get the idea.
I’ve taken a few cooking classes where we made homemade pasta and I have the technique down! Don’t be intimidated by the process. I will walk you through it, step by step, and share as many tips and tricks as I can.
Think you can’t make homemade pasta because you don’t have a stand mixer or a pasta roller? Wrong. They’ve obviously been making it in Italy without any fancy tools for as long as pasta has been around. But like with any job, the right tools make it easier.
How do you make fresh pasta dough?
Once you combine all of the ingredients, you have to knead the dough. You can most certainly knead the dough by hand, but it is a physically demanding process that will work your biceps for at least ten minutes. Pasta dough is not as soft as bread dough, so you’d be in for a workout.
If you have a stand mixer, you can easily knead the dough with the dough hook. If not, knead the dough on a well floured surface.
If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more semolina flour into it forms into a ball. Likewise, if the dough is too dry to come together, add water by the tablespoonful until it comes together.
You know the dough is ready when there is elasticity. To test, stick your knuckle into the dough. It should slowly push back. If you create an indentation and the dough just stays, you need to continue kneading.
Next, you’ll just need to cover your dough, either with plastic wrap or a towel, and let it rest at least 30 minutes. This is what allows the gluten to form which will give your pasta the chew it needs.
Tips for using a pasta roller:
The same process works whether you use a hand roller or the KitchenAid attachment. I actually have the Atlas hand roller and highly recommend it. There’s just something fun about cranking the pasta through manually.
- Working with small pieces of well-floured dough, send through the roller on the widest setting. Fold the dough into thirds and send it back through with the folded ends on the sides. Do this one more time and send it through the widest setting. The reason you do this is to get a pasta sheet with straight edges so there’s little waste when you cut.
- Continue to work the dough through the roller, rotating the dial each time to make the pasta sheet thinner and thinner. Ensure your dough always has enough flour so that it doesn’t stick to your roller.
- I usually go to the thickness setting of 5, but you can choose how thick or how thin you want your pasta.
- Once you have your sheet, you can then make your own ravioli or lasagna. Again, having the right tools helps, so if you’re making ravioli I recommend using a ravioli press. If you plan to cut spaghetti or linguine noodles, send the pasta through the cutting side.
- Ensure each of the noodles are well covered in flour so they don’t stick. You can’t go overboard here because it will all come off when you cook the pasta.
I plan on making a video at some point, but if you have any questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to ask!
Pasta dough recipe directions
To make this recipe we used an excellent flour, specific for fresh homemade pasta. Place the flour on the kitchen table – or in a bowl – and make a well in the center. For those who are making homemade pasta for the first time we suggest using the bowl because the work will be easier. Crack the eggs into the well and add a pinch of salt (1). With the help of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together (2). At this point, if you are using the bowl, remove the dough and place it on the table. Now you have to knead and work it with your hands for about ten minutes (3). Pay attention: if the dough is too soft and sticky, add flour; if it is too hard and with too much flour yet, add water. This is the hardest work but it’s necessary. If you don’t knead the flour with the eggs very well, the dough will be soft when cooked and not al dente as it should be.
After ten minutes, make a big ball (4) and wrap it in a cling film. Let it rest for 15/30 minutes. The cling film is usefull not to dry out the dough and let it go crusty around the edges.
How to roll the dough
Many people think Italian women love roll the dough with their hands. THIS IS A FALSE MITH! Our grandmothers could not do otherwise but nowadays there are so many tools that come to handy. Yes sure, you could opt to roll the pasta dough by hand using a long wooden rolling pin (5), but in our opinion a pasta maker machine makes for far less work.
So let’s say that a pasta machine is necessary in every kitchen. We use Imperia pasta maker machine: amazingly easy to use and highly versatile. It reduces the preparation time and the result is even better than handmade pasta rolled by a wooden rolling pin. We suggest the Electric Pasta Maker Motor; easy to attach and use on your Imperia Pasta Machine
That said let’s start.
First make sure that your pasta maker machine is clamped firmly to a clean surface. Dust your work surface with some flour. Take a lump of pasta dough the size of a tennis ball and press it out flat with the palms of your hands. Roll the lump of pasta dough through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Remember to dust the pasta dough with flour if you feel it’s becoming sticky. Fold the pasta in half and repeat the process for 4/5 times. You have to work the dough till it’s smoother. Now roll the dough through all the settings of your machine, from the widest to the narrowest (6). If you are making homemade pasta for tagliatelle, tagliolini or pappardelle, roll the dough until it reaches a thickness of one/half millimeter. If you’re making a stuffed pasta like ravioli or tortellini, you’ll need to roll it down slightly thinner.
10 tricks to make a great homemade pasta
- Use always fresh eggs at room temperature
- A rough surface is the best choice for kneading, therefore it woul be better kneading on a wooden table than on a marble one.
- For a more elastic dough you can add oil to the dough, but just a little bit (1 teaspoon)
- You can use water instead of eggs but the dough will be less flavorful.
- To prevent the dough from drying out, it’s important that there would be an high level of umidity in your kitchen.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes, pulling it from all sides, as long as it will be smooth and elastic.
- Make a ball, cover with a cloth or a cling film and let it rest for 15-30 minutes in a warm place
- If you want to color your dough, it’s necessary to add vegetables or spices: spinach, saffron, herbs. Add them during the kneading.
- Divide the dough into three or more lump of pasta; that way it’ll be easier to work them. Remember to decrease the thickness settings of your pasta machine at each step and add flour from time to time.
- Add a little olive oil in the cooking water to prevent the fresh pasta from sticking.