I love making pasta. It’s surprisingly easy, affordable and fun. No matter what celebrity chefs might lead you to believe, you don’t need a pasta machine, a rolling pin is more than enough. Yes, it involves some elbow grease, but it’s not nearly as hard as you might imagine.
If you have little ones around or you’re a newbie at the whole cooking things, this is a great recipe to try. It’s pretty hard to mess up, and who doesn’t like fresh pasta?
Making pasta from scratch can be a bit fiddlesome and, I won’t lie, it does take time. But, you can make a large batch and either allow it to completely dry and store in the pantry or freeze. It will taste as good as the freshly-made one.
If you don’t or can’t eat eggs, you can still make this pasta with an egg alternative. My preferred option is 2 tablespoons of chickpea (gram) flour and 1 tablespoon of oil for each egg. The chickpea flour gives the pasta that yellow colour you expect from fresh pasta and replaces the protein of the egg whites, while the oil does a great job of subbing for the egg yolks.
Choosing a flour
Pasta is traditionally made with wheat flour. Generally, type 00 (which is very fine) is considered the best one for pasta. However, depending on where you live it can be expensive or very hard to find (or both!).
Plain white flour can be found pretty much everywhere, it’s affordable and it gives great results. Honestly, most people won’t be able to tell if you’ve used type 00 or plain flour unless they are a food critic.
And there is also semolina. This flour is coarser and a little bit harder to work with. So it’s better to leave it until after you’ve done pasta from scratch a few times and you are already comfortable with the process. The resulting pasta is slightly harder and feels more al dente.
Once you’ve gone over the process a few times, you could start experiment with different flours.
Steps to make pasta from scratch
You will need 100 grams of flour for every person that is eating. So, if you’re cooking for 5, multiply this recipe by 5.
In a bowl mix 100 grams (just over 3/4 of a cup) of flour with 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of table salt.
You can do it the traditional way and make a little volcano with the flour and add the eggs in the middle, but that’s not needed. Using a large kitchen bowl will make cleanup easier and the dough will turn out exactly the same.
At first the mix will look like wet sand, but after a few minutes the dough will start to come together. At that point, switch to using your hands and knead until the dough is smooth and shiny (it should take between 5 to 10 minutes).
The dough should spring back when pressed down with a finger. This first kneading allows the gluten to develop. If you over do it, the paste will turn out hard. If you don’t do it enough, the pasta will be soft and mushy. Don’t worry it at first you can’t get it just right, it does take a few tries to figure it out.
Cover or wrap the dough with a cloth and allow it to rest for at least half an hour. During this time the gluten will relax and the pasta will be easier to roll. If you skip this step, the pasta will feel gummy and chewy.
You can wrap the dough in film, use a wet cloth (your basic kitchen cloth works), or simply cover the bowl you’re using. I usually cover the bowl with a clean kitchen cloth.
To roll the dough, first divide it into smaller amounts. This will make it easier to handle, roll, and shape. It’s important to keep the dough you’re not using covered or it will dry out and rolling it will be extremely hard!
You should roll the dough as thin as possible. If you’re rolling using a pin, you’ll need to flour the surface so the dough doesn’t stick.
Cut and shape
This is where you can have some fun! There are thousands of possible pasta shapes to make, but by far the easiest is to cut it in long strips. My favourite one when making homemade pasta is the very thick pappardelle. It’s hard to find in stores and looks even better when the cutting is a bit uneven.
To do that, flour your surface and the top of the dough, and fold it several times. Now you can cut it as thin or thick as you want. And then, unroll it. Try to unroll it as fast as possible so that the pasta doesn’t stick to itself! An extra pair of helping hands is always useful to have around during this step.
Before you cook your pasta, you need to let it dry for a few minutes. This step prevents the pasta from sticking and helps with the texture.
If you’re not going to be cooking it straight away, you can leave it to completely dry and then store in the pantry, or you can freeze it for later use.
Fresh pasta cooks very fast, it should take between 1 and 5 minutes depending on how thick it is and the shape you chose.
If you froze the pasta, you can cook it straight from the freezer, just add a minute or 2 to the boiling time. If you completely dried the pasta, you will need to cook it like regular dry pasta for 7 to 10 minutes.