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Homemade Pasta - By Hand & Machine

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

Homemade pasta. When done well, it really doesn't get much better than this (recipe link). Comforting, hearty, and in so many shapes and sizes, pasta has been nourishing us for centuries. I ate spaghetti and red sauce for at least two meals a week when I was a kid, and you know what? I never got tired of that meal.


I've heard it said that when rolling out dough for pasta, you'll know you're getting the job done when your ass begins to sweat. Truth. Here, we will explore two methods for making homemade strand pasta - by rolling pin and by machine.

Many of us have had intentions of making homemade pasta at one time or another - someone gives you a pasta maker and you say, "I can't wait to try this!" or you say that but think "I'm never going to use this" and it languishes on a shelf in the far corner of the kitchen, forgotten and sad. I got a bit lucky here; I had an Italian grandmother who often made fresh ravioli and pasta and I was her little helper. It may sound cliché, the nonna who passes down the gift, but that's the way it was and I am so thankful to have had that time with her. She was awesome. She loved cards and bingo. And puzzles. She would kiss me on the cheek, leaving a full lip print of whatever shade of lipstick she was wearing, and then wipe it off for me. I miss her, even though that was ages ago.


She would sometimes roll out the dough with a pin, and would sometimes use her pasta maker. If you haven't used one, you've at least seen one; it attaches to the edge of the counter or table and has a little handle that inserts into the rolling part, and another attachment for cutting the rolled sheet of pasta. (See our logo! We have one in our logo!) Whichever method she used, we did it enough that after a while it didn't seem so mystical anymore, but very doable. Up until recently, I'd almost exclusively used the pasta maker method, but after seeing multiple #pastagrannies using their rolling pins, I decided to give it another shot. What I found was a very satisfying alternate to the pasta maker that offered a better connection to the ingredients and less clean up. Either way, I hope you'll give it a try. Maybe you have a little helper of your own ready for memory-making. Or maybe not. In the end so much of good food is tied to memory and our experiences surrounding it, so think happy thoughts and make yourself some good pasta.


YIELD

1 lb. of pasta


INGREDIENTS

  • 135g (1 cup) type 00 flour

  • 135g (1 cup) semolina flour

  • 3 eggs

  • pinch of fine sea salt

  • dash of e.v. olive oil

RECIPE

1---Combine the flours and pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Crack eggs into center of well (alternatively, you can crack them into a bowl first to ensure there are no shells) and begin folding in flour from the edges with a wooden spoon. When the ingredients begin to meld, switch to using your hands and continue to pull from the edges into the center until a loose, shaggy dough forms.


2---Empty bowl contents onto a floured work surface, add a dash of olive oil, and knead until a smooth, somewhat elastic dough forms, about 5-7 minutes. Wrap in plastic wrap, or cover with a clean, dampened kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes. You can also store the well-wrapped dough in the fridge for a couple of days before using, but make sure to pull it out and allow it to come back to room temperature before the next step.


METHOD 1 - PASTA MAKER

1---Attach your pasta maker firmly to a sturdy table or the edge of a countertop with an adjacent work surface. Unwrap or uncover the dough and slice of a piece a little larger than golf ball sized. Begin with the thickest setting on the roller portion of the crank (mine is 7), dust the dough with a little flour, and push it through while turning the handle. Watch your fingers! Especially tiny fingers! Fold the oddly-shaped dough that came out and pass through again. Do this 4+ times, folding and dusting with flour when it gets tacky until you have a rectangular-ish piece of dough roughly half the width of the pasta roller. This is important because the dough will get a lot wider as we flatten it. Now you are ready to thin the sheet. Reduce the roller width by one and roll it through, guiding the dough on center so it doesn't pull towards an edge. If the dough begins to get tacky - and it will a few times - lay it flat on the counter and sprinkle each side with flour, spreading it around with your hand. Continue taking the dough down in thickness one number and pass at a time until you get to where you like it. I almost always go to number 2, which on mine is next to the thinnest setting.


2---Now that you have a pasta sheet, it's time to cut the pasta. You can do this a few ways and for the purpose of this post, we're going to focus on pappardelle or tagliatelle. Your pasta maker should have come with an attachment to cut spaghetti or tagliatelle. Simply attach this part, move the hand crank over to it and run the sheet through. Voila! You can also use a wooden roller cutter, like the one pictured below. Finally, you can liberally flour the sheet, roll it loosely over itself, and slice it with a sharp knife as described in Method 2. Once you have your noodles, hang them on a pasta rack or sprinkle with some flour and twirl them into a little nest while you prepare the rest of the dough.


METHOD 2 - ROLLING PIN


For a real calorie burner - and to feel more in touch with the ingredients - give the rolling pin a shot. It's pretty fun. I recently bought a French tapered rolling pin and I found I like it better than a traditional pin, but either works fine. The nice thing about this method versus the pasta machine, is you can do more at one time and as I mentioned before, it requires a little less clean up.


1---Flour your work surface, cut off half of the dough and cover the remaining half with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Begin to roll out the dough. Start from the center and roll out to the sides, alternating your direction and trying to keep it even as you flatten the dough.

Flour the top as needed and don't be afraid to lift the dough off the work surface with the pin to flour the surface as well. The dough is not elastic like pizza dough and will not stretch by itself. Keep working until you have a large disc that is as thin as you prefer.


2---Flour the disc liberally and move the flour around with your hand to coat dough evenly. Roll the dough over itself loosely so that the finished roll can be cut with a long, sharp knife.

Cut with a long, sharp knife. I went for tagliatelle dimensions for this meal, but I've seen the experts do angel hair in this way. I'm not there yet. Dust with a little more flour as you give the noodles a gentle toss and move them off to the side or onto a baking sheet while you prepare the remaining dough.

And that's about it! Easy! Cut pasta can be boiled immediately, dried on the counter for an hour or so, floured and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days (or on the counter if it's an eggless dough), or frozen. If freezing, lay the floured noodles on a cookie sheet and freeze first prior to placing in a bag or container for storing in the freezer. Cook directly from the freezer or fridge. Of course when you do cook the pasta, it will cook very quickly because it is fresh - about 1-2 minutes depending on thickness. You always want to cook to al dente ("to the teeth", firm when bitten and sticks to the teeth) when tossing with a sauce, and finish cooking the noodles in the sauce. Paul uses a spider strainer to scoop the al dente pasta directly from the boiling water into the sauce being heated on another burner. If you want to thicken your sauce a bit, don't strain the pasta too long but pull directly from the starchy water into the saucepan allowing some water to come with it. Oh yeah, and always salt your water after it boils.


Making pasta can be really fun, but of course eating it is the ultimate reward. Give yourself plenty of time when you're ready to try it and I promise it'll be worth the effort. Enjoy!

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