Just Dough It!
Making pasta is not as daunting or as messy an undertaking as you might have heard. In fact, making it from scratch is so simple and straightforward that there's barely any learning curve.
Just the thought of making homemade pasta is enough to utterly confound most people, like it’s some esoteric practice belonging to tiny, hole-in-the-wall bistros in remote Italian villages. We will gladly eat handmade pasta when we see it on a menu somewhere, but making it at home? Forget it. After all, why in the world would anybody make pasta when it’s so readily accessible at the grocery store?
Although dried pasta certainly has its place amid busy schedules — when even getting dinner on the table during the week is a miracle in and of itself — weekends offer the time to slow down and learn a new skill.
Hand-making pasta is a good excuse to invite close friends over for an intimate dinner party, uncork a bottle of wine or two, and celebrate good food and friendship into the night. Or maybe begin a new family tradition Sunday evenings of making deliciously thick and slurpy noodles to go with chicken soup made with homemade stock.
Making pasta may seem intimidating, but surprisingly, you probably already have everything needed to make noodles at home. There are only three ingredients involved: flour, eggs, and salt. And if you do not have a pasta maker, you can simply use a pizza cutter to cut the dough, or even a sharp paring knife.
Note: This is a beginner’s recipe. Though pasta is assembled from very few ingredients, there are hundreds of variations out there using different egg-to-flour ratios, using only egg yolks versus only egg whites (or combining a mixture of the two), or no eggs and using water instead. Some recipes also call for semolina flour — basically extra gluten-y flour to thickly bind the noodles.
Learning to make pasta involves some trial and error, but this recipe will serve as a fun, hands-on introduction to the world of homemade pastas.
You will need:
- 2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- plastic wrap
- rolling pin
- a pasta maker, pizza cutter, or sharp paring knife
- a large, flat workspace
Using a medium-sized bowl, pour in flour. Using your fingers, push flour to the sides, making a “well” in the middle of the bowl. Crack the eggs into the well.
Using a fork, break up the egg yolks and begin to pull flour from around the sides into the egg mixture, whisking briskly from the wrist.
When the egg-flour mixture gets too difficult to mix with a fork, use your hands to combine and make a sticky dough ball. Continue to manipulate dough and incorporate more flour until the dough ball no longer sticks to your hands. (You may not end up using all the flour.)
Dust a large, flat workspace with flour and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes. If it starts to get too dry, mist with a little lukewarm water. Once finished, mold dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place in fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Remove dough ball from fridge and slice in half. Take half and using a rolling pin on a flour-dusted surface, roll out dough into a flat, oblong shape.
Steps 6, 9-11 (if not using a pasta maker)
Fold dough in half and roll out into an oblong shape once more. Repeat this process 6-8 times. The idea here is to get the dough as flat as possible. Using a pizza cutter or sharp paring knife, cut out lengthwise slender noodle rows. They will be long, so if desired cut them in half down the middle widthwise. Using a parchment lined baking sheet, create little pasta “nests” and cover with a slightly damp towel to keep them moistened until ready to boil.
Steps 6-11 (using a pasta maker)
Using the widest setting on the adjustment knob, feed the dough through the flattening (not the noodle-cutting yet) rollers on the machine. Fold dough in half, sprinkle with flour, and pass it through the rollers again. Repeat this process 6-8 times on the widest setting, spraying dough with lukewarm water if it gets too sticky.
Reduce the distance between the rollers by one notch and pass the dough through. Continue this process of reducing by one notch each time and passing the dough through until desired dough thickness is reached.
Now it’s finally time to pass the dough through the pasta cutters (which feels remarkably like using a Play-Doh set from childhood). Crank the dough through either the linguine or the spaghetti-sized cutters (based on preference), shepherding the noodles through with your free hand. Noodles will be long, so you may cut them in half if desired.
Using a parchment lined baking sheet, create little pasta “nests” and cover with a slightly damp towel to keep them moistened until ready to boil.
Bring a salted pot of water to boil and toss in the noodles. Since they are already soft, the noodles only need to boil for about four minutes, or until al dente. Remove from heat and strain water from noodles through a strainer. Run cool water over the noodles to prevent them from sticking.
At this point, you may do whatever you want with your noodles. Chunk them in a big hearty pot of chicken soup, or toss them with sauce. Since the noodles are delicious by themselves and don’t need a lot of dressing up, a simple pesto or light olive oil and tomato sauce will accentuate them best.
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