How To Make Homemade Pasta
There is no need to be intimidated by making your own homemade pasta. While it requires a little extra time and effort in the kitchen, making fresh pasta isn’t as hard as you think …and it’s certainly worth it. We promise!
My mother never measured anything… even the flour when making fresh pasta. Each time we made pasta, I would have my little notebook out and ask her how much flour she was using. The response was the same every time:
“You only put as much flour as the eggs want to drink today.”
In other words, there is no exact amount. It can vary depending on the egg size, on the type of flour and even on the humidity in the air that day. That said, this recipe is just an approximate amount of flour. Don’t mix the flour and eggs all at once. Begin with 3 cups of flour and go from there.
- 4 cups flour*
- 8-10 jumbo eggs
Rule of thumb: Estimate 1 egg per person for a main course
Approximately 2 eggs to 1 cup of flour (2 eggs : 1 cup flour)
Mound the flour in the middle of a wooden board. Make a well in the center of the flour. Break the eggs right into the center of the well. Beat the eggs with a fork until they are completely incorporated.
Using the fork gradually start to pull in flour from the sides of the well, slowly incorporating the flour with the eggs. Mix in only as much flour as the eggs can absorb. You may not need all the flour.
Once the dough starts to come together, begin kneading continuously to form a loose ball. Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface and flatten slightly. Fold the dough in half, toward you, and then press the dough away from you with the heels of your hands. Give the dough a quarter of a turn and repeat the process (fold, push and turn). Your hands should glide through the dough while you gently push down and in. (See video for kneading action.) Continue to knead, adding more flour to prevent sticking, if necessary.
Work the dough for about 8 minutes. If it gets too tense and elastic (begins to pull back into itself) while kneading, set it aside and allow it to relax a bit until it’s easier to work with. Let it rest under a dry dishcloth for about 5 minutes.
Pasta dough should contain a nice ratio of air pockets throughout. If your dough doesn’t have air pockets, you may have used too much flour or over-kneaded. To fix this, allow the dough to rest for another 30 minutes covered under a dry dishcloth before you begin to form the pasta.
Using a Pasta Machine
Divide the rested dough into 6 equal parts. With the palm of your hand, press the dough as thin as you can get it. Beginning with the largest opening on the pasta machine (typically the lowest number on the dial), feed the dough through the machine, one piece at a time.
Fold each piece into 3 parts like a letter. Lightly flour each side and repeat. Feeding the dough through the machine 4 to 5 times until the dough becomes smooth and no longer sticky. Flour the outside of the folded dough each time before it goes back through the machine to prevent sticking. Be sure to repeat the same number of times with each sheet, so that pasta thickness will be uniform.
Turn the dial on the machine to the next number, making your opening one notch smaller. Feed each piece of dough through the machine one time only, and do not fold it this time. Continue this process of narrowing the machine opening until you reach the thinness you want. Sprinkle with flour when necessary. It’s important to put each piece through the same number of times so each sheet of dough is a consistent thickness and texture.
Be sure to keep the finished pasta sheets lightly floured while working. Cover the sheets with a kitchen towel as you go along.
The pasta making machine should have an opening or attachment that is used to cut the sheets into long noodles. One at a time, feed the sheets through the desired shape attachment. Keep the noodles on kitchen towels until you are ready to cook. Shake off any excess flour right before cooking by tossing the noodles lightly in colander.
When cooking fresh pasta, be sure to use a large pot at a rapid boil. Fresh pasta needs a larger pot with more water (than dried pasta), because the noodles have a tendency to stick together more easily. Oh, and don’t forget to salt the water!
Without a Pasta Machine
If you don’t have a machine, don’t sweat it. Dust both sides of the flattened dough with flour and use a rolling pin to press the pasta as thin as possible. Press and roll from the center, one way at a time. Build in layers, folding the dough back over itself. Continue rolling until the dough is very thin, but not broken. Lift it frequently to release it from the counter. Transfer the dough to a kitchen towel and air-dry for about 15 minutes.
Roll the dough into a spiral.
Cut into ½ inch sections.
Unroll and separate the cut pasta… and look, YOU’VE GOT NOODLES! Keep pasta on a floured baking sheet until ready to cook.
Sauce Ideas for Your Homemade Pasta
Now that you’ve created your own amazing pasta from-scratch, it’s time to dress up those noodles so they can shine. Homemade pasta deserves a great sauce. If you like to keep it light and simple, try an olive oil based sauce, like basil pesto, or a Simple Marinara. Take it to the next level with an indulgent cream sauce recipe like a classic Carbonara or Clam Sauce. If you’re looking for something different, bring on the best of both worlds with a tangy tomato and cream sauce like this Vodka Sauce recipe. Go hearty with a slow simmered ragù, like a meaty Bolognese.