Homemade Pasta

We discovered homemade pasta a couple of years ago, and were surprised by how easy it was to make and how much better it tasted!  Sure, on the weekdays I use box pasta, but whenever we have a little extra time we make our own.  This is a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your own pasta.  We learned the technique from The Classic Pasta Cookbook.  We bought a cheap pasta roller and cutter, but did also make it entirely by hand a few times.  Although hand-rolled pasta is the most "authentic", it is much more difficult for the novice to get consistently thin sheets of pasta. The machine-rolled pasta you make at home still beats the store-bough pasta by a mile!

A few additional tips from Thomas (our chief pasta maker):

- Many Italian cookbooks call for "00" (doppio zero) flour in their fresh pasta recipes. Marcella Hazan recommends basic All Purpose as an alternative in the US. We used King Arthur AP for this recipe and achieved great results. If you're going for more authenticity, King Arthur does make an Italian-style flour that is intended to be like Italian "00".
- The amount of flour you actually need depends on the humidity in your kitchen and the size of your eggs. I recommend starting with a little less than 2 cups and slowly adding in more until you get the right consistency and level of moisture in your pasta dough.
- It is very helpful to the overall texture and "workability' of your pasta dough if you let your eggs come close to room temperature before making pasta. So, I recommend that you take them out of the fridge and hour or two before you start to make your pasta.
- The narrowest cutters on your pasta machine produce a pasta known as tonnarelli. This is an excellent substitute for plain old boxed spaghetti. Tonnarelli and Meatballs is one of our favorite dishes!

Homemade Pasta:
click here for printable version

3 eggs (take them out about an hour before you start)
2 to 2 1/4 cups flour

Pour the flour into a hill on the counter and make a well in the center.  Break the eggs into the center of the well.  Beat the eggs with a fork.

With the fork, gently add some flour into the well.  Do not break the wall or the eggs will seep out.

Quickly, use both hands and bring together the remaining flour and egg mixture.  Mix until all of the flour is incorporated.

The dough should feel moist but not sticky, add more flour if necessary.
When it feels right, wrap it in plastic wrap.

Clean your work surface.  
Unwrap the dough and begin kneading.  Hold the dough with one hand while folding it over the fingers of the other hand.

Use the heel of your palm to push the dough down and away from you.  Continue until the dough is smooth (usually about 5-8 minutes of kneading).  Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.

Cut the dough into 6 pieces and wrap them individually in plastic wrap.

Set the pasta rollers at their greatest width. Feed the dough into the pasta machine.
Fold the dough in thirds, turn it so the folds are at the sides and run it through the machine again.  Do this three or four times until it is very smooth.
Reduce the width of the rollers by one. Feed the sheet through the rollers again. Repeat this procedure until you have reached the desired thickness (for pasta that will be cut, we usually stop one short of the thinnest setting).

Lay the sheets on towels to dry, about 10 minutes.

Use your machine's pasta cutters or a knife to cut the pasta as desired, remembering that it will expand when cooked.

Let dry for about 5-10 minutes.

Boil about 3 minutes (for fettuccine) depending on the type of pasta you have made.  Homemade pasta cooks much faster than the box type.

Toss with your favorite sauce.  Check out our recipe for Fettuccine Alfredo tomorrow!