If I ever went back to working for someone else, I’d either want to be the corn tortilla maker at our local Mexican joint or the pasta maker at an Italian restaurant. There’s just something admirable about committing your life to one mindless, meaningful task that brings other people joy. And it's this idea of repetition, of mastering a body of ingredients and knowing them like an old friend, that gets me excited.
Making pasta is one of my favorite forms of therapy. It’s blissfully simple, requiring just the heat and heel of your hands to combine eggs, flour and salt into a smooth ball of dough. When the dough is ready, you simply crank the pasta machine again and again, pressing the dough thinner and thinner until it’s ready to be cut and whirled into little nests. It's a process that quickly commits to memory and you'll find that nothing compares to the taste.
There are lots of methods out there for making fresh pasta, but I find this recipe and method to be a great place to start. It requires just eggs, flour and a bit of salt and doesn’t require expensive machinery. While you can always use a rolling pin and pastry wheel to make your own pasta, I find an inexpensive manual pasta machine does the trick nicely. I purchased mine for around $30 at World Market and it comes with a pasta cutting attachment as well.
Now let's get to it!
How to Make Fresh Pasta
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1/2tsp salt
*Yields enough pasta for about 4-6 servings.
Make the Dough:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Next, make a deep well in the flour mixture and crack your eggs in the well. You can also do this Italian grandmother style and pour your flour mixture on a work surface (as pictured), but it’s admittedly messier.
Next, use a fork to whisk the eggs and gradually start whisking in flour from the sides and bottom. Continue slowly incorporating more and more flour into the well until it starts to form a rough dough and most or all of the flour is added.
Next, flour your hands and place the dough on a countertop or work surface. Begin kneading the dough by folding it and pressing it away with the heel of your hand. Give it a little turn and continue this process working around in a circle. Knead the dough until smooth and firm, about 10 minutes.
Once the dough is kneaded, place it in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let set for about 20-30 minutes.
Roll out the pasta:
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut the dough into 4 to 6 equal portions. Six portions is a good starting point if you’re just getting used to the pasta machine.
Take one portion of the dough and cover the remaining portions with a slightly dampened dish towel (Going forward, you’ll want to keep any dough you’re not working with covered at all times as it will quickly dry out). Flatten the portion into a disc using your hands or a rolling pin. You just need it to be thin enough to pass through the widest setting on your pasta machine. Pass it through once or twice and then fold both sides inwards, like a letter. Pass it through on the widest setting again.
Next, change the settings on the pasta machine to gradually roll the pasta thinner and thinner. You’ll want to pass the pasta through each setting once or twice before graduating to the next smaller setting. Continue passing it through until you get to setting “6” or “7”. A setting of “6” or “7” is adequate for fettuccine or spaghetti noodles. Once finished, you should be able to see your hands through the pasta. If it gets too long to work with, simple cut the piece in half and continue pressing. Additionally, if it starts feeling sticky, sprinkle it with a light layer of flour. If the opposite occurs, and it feels dry or is cracking, simply roll up into a ball and work the dough until smooth again.
Cut the noodles:
Once you’ve pressed the pasta, place it flat on a floured baking sheet and keep it covered with the dish towel. If you have to fold the pasta for any reason, make sure you flour between the folds or it will stick together.
Once all the pasta has been pressed, it’s time to cut the noodles! Switch from the pasta roller to the noodle cutter on your machine and simply roll each piece through and gather the noodles at the end. Lightly sprinkle the noodles with a bit of flour and either lay them flat or gather them into a soft nest.
Cook the pasta:
Fresh pasta cooks much faster than store-bought pasta. Heat a salted pot of water to a rolling boil and add the noodles. Cook for 4 minutes and then check for doneness.
Or freeze the pasta:
If you’re making ahead, freeze the noodles on a baking sheet either in small nests or laid flat. Once frozen, place in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
I hope you enjoy making your own pasta as much as I do!
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #feastandfable!