Fresh pasta makes a delicious change to dried pasta and it is really not that hard to make. Recipes Made Easy takes you step by step on how to make a successful homemade pasta.
You need just flour, eggs and oil to make homemade pasta and making your own pasta can be very rewarding. Try making a lasagne with fresh pasta, and you will notice just how much better it tastes compared to dried.
It can also be great fun. Although not possible at the moment I have on a number of occasions got together with friends to spend the afternoon making pasta and then enjoyed eating the fruits of our labour at dinner, washed down with a few glasses of vino of course.
It really can be a great way to while away a few hours and makes a change from an evening down the pub. Better for your purse as well!
And while that may not be an option just now, there is every reason to make your own pasta at home, especially if you have a bit of extra time on your hands. It really can be very therapeutic spending a few hours in the kitchen creating something delicious.
And if you are still having problems finding dried pasta then it is a double bonus so long as you can source some flour.
Do I need any special equipment to make pasta?
Apart from a rolling pin no. You can make several shapes of pasta with just a rolling pin and there are even some such as Orchette that do not require even that.
You don’t even need a mixing bowl. Pasta is traditionally made direct on the table top although you can mix it on a bowl if you find it easier.
That said, the success of pasta is often down to developing the gluten and then rolling out the pasta thinly. And there is no getting away from it, that can be quite hard physical work.
The gluten in the flour causes the pasta to spring back as you roll it but persevere and you will be able to roll it thinly.
If you make pasta regularly it is well worth investing in a pasta roller. It really makes rolling the pasta a breeze. The most common kind are hand-cranked and you clamp them to the tabletop. They are readily available from cookshops and online and not too expensive.
If you have a stand mixer some have pasta roller attachments. these have the advantage that they free up both hands for passing the pasta back and forth through the machine.
Passing the pasta back and forth through the rollers which you progressively move closer together also helps to develop the gluten reducing the amount of kneading required.
You can see from the image below the difference between the top piece of pasta that has been passed through the roller once or twice compared to the lower piece that has been passed through the rollers several times.
Once the pasta is looking smooth then you can start reducing the thickness.
If you don’t have a roller and are rolling by hand you will need to work the dough more before rolling. Use a dough hook on a stand mixer if you have one to lessen the work.
How to make fresh pasta step by step
Step One – Place the flour in a heap on the work surface then make a well in the centre. Drop in the eggs and add the olive oil
Step Two – Beat the eggs and oil together with a fork, gradually drawing in the flour as you do so.
Step Three – Continue to mix the flour into the egg mixture using your fingers once most of the flour has been mixed in.
Step Four – Once all the flour is mixed in, form a firm dough and knead thoroughly for 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes before using as required.
The dough needs to be sufficiently kneaded to stop it breaking when being rolled out. If you are using a machine to roll the pasta you can reduce the amount of kneading as this can be done by passing the dough through the rollers several times
To make the dough in a mixer
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and fit the dough hook. Add the eggs and oil. Mix on medium slow speed for 3 to 4 minutes then increase speed and mix for about 5 – 10 minutes. Cover and allow to rest for 45 minutes before using as required.
To make pasta in a food processor
Fit the paddle blade, sift in the flour and salt. Lightly beat the oil and egg together and add to the bowl. Process until the dough comes together. Tip out and knead until smooth, cover and allow to rest for 45 minutes before using.
The moisture content of flour will vary so you may need to add a little water if the dough is too firm or a little extra flour if the dough is too soft. You are aiming for a dough that is a little firmer than bread dough.
Can you flavour homemade pasta?
It is very easy to flavour pasta try these variations:
- Black pepper pasta – Add 1 tbsp cracked black pepper to the flour before mixing.
- Pasta verdi – Add 50g (2oz) chopped cooked spinach that has been squeezed very dry. Add extra flour if the dough becomes too sticky.
- Herb pasta – Add 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs such as chives, rosemary, oregano or thyme.
- Tomato pasta – Add 1 tbsp tomato purée in place of the oil.
Rolling and cutting fresh pasta by hand.
Step One – Divide the dough into easily workable sized pieces. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the dough until about 3mm (1/8 in thick).
Step Two – Continue to roll the pasta as thinly as possible using your hands to stretch out the pasta along the rolling pin as you roll. Unroll, turn and repeat until dough is very thin.
Step Three – To make lasagne sheets, after rolling, lay out on a surface lightly dusted with flour or semolina for about 20 minutes, then cut into sheets.
To make tagliatelli, roll up the sheets of pasta like a Swiss roll then cut about 6mm (¼ in) wide. Open out and hang strips to dry or leave loosely piled on a tray sprinkled with semolina or flour.
Rolling and cutting pasta with a machine
Step One – Divide the dough into easily workable sized pieces. Set the rollers at the widest setting and feed the dough through the rollers. Fold the dough in half and repeat several times
You will notice that at first the first few times the dough tends to crack and tear a little. Keep folding and rolling until this no longer happens and you have a fairly even rectangle of dough.
Place on a work surface or tray sprinkled with semolina and repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Step Two – Adjust the machine to the next setting then feed the pasta through the machine once. Then place on the surface again before repeating with the next piece.
Working through each piece of dough in the same order keep feeding the pasta through the rollers each time decreasing the gap between the rollers until you have the required thickness. If the dough gets too long cut in half for easier handling.
Step Three – Feed the pasta through the cutting blades for tagliatelle or Spaghetti or use as desired
Allow pasta to dry for at least 10 minutes before cooking. Fresh pasta can be allowed to dry and will keep several weeks if stored in an airtight container in a cool place. It can also be frozen
For a quick and easy sauce to serve with the pasta try my Really Easy tomato sauce.
- 225 g strong plain flour
- ½ – 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Sift 225g (8oz) flour and 1/½-1 tsp salt into a pile on the worksurface or into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and drop in 2 eggs and 2 tbsp olive oil.
- Beat the eggs together with a fork gradually drawing in the flour as you do so. Continue mixing until the mixture starts to come together to form a dough. Then use your hands to finish mixing to a firm dough adding a little extra water if required or a little more flour if the dough is very sticky.
- Knead the dough thoroughly for about 10 minutes The dough should be pliable but not sticky.
- Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes before using as required
- Strong flour with a high gluten content makes the best pasta but if you are rolling by hand you may find it easier to use plain flour.
- The dough needs to be sufficiently kneaded to stop it breaking when being rolled out. If you are using a machine to roll the pasta you can reduce the amoun of kneading as this can be done by passing the dough through the rollers several times.
- Fresh pasta cooks quicker than dried. Tagliatelle about 3-5 minutes in boiling water. Stir gently as it is easily broken.