Fresh homemade pasta (using what you already have in the kitchen)
Everyday Eats & Sweets, Recipes

Fresh Homemade Pasta (Using What You Already Have in the Kitchen)

Until I started making my own pasta, I always thought homemade pasta required a special pasta maker, a lot of space to hang up curtains of noodles, and a lot of time to devote in the kitchen. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Homemade pasta can be had with the most basic of kitchen implements: a smooth surface, a rolling pin, a sharp knife, and a half-hour of hands-on time. Small appliances can shave off a few minutes if you have a mixer to knead the dough or a machine to roll it out, but once you get the hang of homemade pasta, your hands can be just as quick.


Beet pasta

Hand-cut pasta

It’s so easy that I’ll sometimes roll out a batch of dough right before dinner. My favorite is handmade linguine or fettucine. I love the rustic quality of hand-cut pasta — how each noodle is just slightly different in thickness or length. Compared to the dried boxed pasta you can buy in the store, fresh pasta is so luxurious on its own that it needs little more than a good sauce to satisfy.

Quite often, I find myself making several batches of pasta that I can store and preserve for future meals. When it comes to preserving pasta, I am a big proponent of freezing rather than drying for a few reasons.

Frozen pasta retains all the color, flavor, and texture of fresh pasta. It cooks faster. It won’t get moldy, since you can freeze it right away. It saves space, since you won’t need to drape it over wooden dowels or the backs of chairs while you wait for the pasta to fully dry. And it won’t break during storage, a big issue with pasta that’s dry and brittle, especially if you lack adequate pantry space.

So, if you find that you can’t use up all the pasta at once, I wholly recommend freezing the unused portions. They don’t even need to be thawed when you’re ready to use them; simply drop the frozen pasta into a boiling pot of salted water and add a couple extra minutes to the cooking time.

Spinach fettucine

For homemade pasta, my basic ratio is 2 cups flour to 3/4 cup liquid. This makes 1 pound of pasta, or 4 servings.

I use the “scoop and sweep” method for measuring flour: scoop a heaping cup of flour, then sweep a straightedge across the top. If your flour has been compacted at the bottom of a bag or canister, fluff it up with a fork before scooping.

An unbleached all-purpose flour works well for the dough. There are special flours you can use to achieve a slightly different texture, like Italian “00” (doppio zero) or semolina flour, but in my opinion, you can make a mighty fine dough with the all-purpose flour you already have in the kitchen.

The liquid consists of eggs, which give “bite” and body to the pasta; olive oil, which adds silkiness and a subtle richness; and if you’re so inclined, vegetable juice or fresh herbs for added color or flavor.

Homemade beet linguini

Flavor the dough with fresh parsley

I start my pasta the traditional way — by heaping flour onto a table and whisking in the eggs — but beginning pasta makers may be better off doing that in a bowl until the process becomes second nature. You might have to wash an extra dish, but at least you won’t get egg all over your shoe.

Egg pasta

Fresh Homemade Egg Pasta

Makes 1 pound

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and dusting
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil

Parsley pasta

Fresh Homemade Herb Pasta

Makes 1 pound

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and dusting
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (try basil or parsley)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Spinach pasta

Fresh Homemade Vegetable Pasta

Makes 1 pound

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and dusting
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable juice (try beet, spinach, or carrot juice, or even tomato paste)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Squid ink pasta

Squid Ink

Fresh Homemade Squid Ink Pasta

Makes 1 pound

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling and dusting
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
8 grams (or 2 x 4g packets) squid ink (I use this brand)

Master Method

Mound the flour onto your work surface and make a large well in the center. (Tip: I use my measuring cup to carve out a deep, perfect well about 5 inches in diameter.) Crack each egg into the well, followed by the remaining ingredients.

Mark a large well in the mound of flour

Measuring Cup

Crack each egg into the well

Using a fork, beat the eggs and oil (plus any herbs, vegetable juice, or squid ink, if using) until well combined.

Whisk the eggs

Little by little, add the flour to the egg mixture and beat until all of it is incorporated. Mix the dough with your fork until it begins to take shape and you can gather it into a loose ball.

Add flour to the egg mixture

Incorporate the flour into the wet ingredients

Mix all the ingredients together with a fork

Pasta dough starting to take shape

Start kneading the pasta dough

With your hands, start kneading the dough. It will feel soft and jiggly at this stage, but keep kneading for about 10 minutes until the dough firms up. I like to push the dough down and out with the heels of my hands, then fold it back over onto itself, rotate a quarter-turn, and push down again.

There’s no “proper” method for kneading; think of it as a really intense massage. You want to work the dough with your hands to develop the gluten, which gives it strength and elasticity. Within a few minutes, you’ll notice the dough becoming harder and harder to knead — making pasta can be a great workout in the kitchen!

Knead the dough

Knead the dough

If any excess flour or dough crumbs remain on your work surface and won’t stick to the dough, simply scrape them off with a dough scraper or straightedge.

When your dough looks smooth and no longer feels sticky, shape it into a ball and cover with a kitchen towel to keep it from drying out. Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball

Cut the dough into quarters. Keep the rest of the dough covered with a towel while you work on each piece.

Cut the dough into quarters

On a floured surface, roll out the dough as thin as you can get it — you should be able to see your hands through the pasta sheet when you pick it up. Dust liberally with more flour to prevent sticking.

Roll out the pasta dough

Cutting Board | Rolling Pin

Hand-rolled pasta sheet

Fold the pasta sheet a few times over itself (as if you were folding a letter) and cut it to your desired width. Choose your favorite:

  • Spaghetti: 1/16 inch
  • Linguine: 1/8 inch
  • Tagliatelle: 3/16 inch
  • Fettucine: 1/4 inch
  • Pappardelle: 1 inch

Cut the pasta to your desired width

Cutting Board | Santoku Knife

Dust the noodles with flour

Shake out the noodles

Shake the noodles out, toss with a little flour, then let them rest in loose mounds on a towel while you roll out the remaining dough. When you’ve finished cutting all the noodles, simply drop them into a boiling pot of salted water. Fresh pasta cooks in 2 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness.

Beet pasta

If you’ll be storing the pasta to use later, lay the noodles out in long strands to rest and dry out a little. Pick up a single-serving portion of noodles and twirl into a nest. Repeat with the remaining noodles, then place the nests on a cookie sheet and freeze for about 1 hour. This keeps the pasta from clumping together in storage; once they’ve firmed up, transfer to a freezer-proof bag or container and freeze again.

Frozen pasta can go straight into boiling water and takes a little longer to cook, but otherwise comes out exactly like fresh pasta.

Spinach pasta, squid ink pasta, carrot pasta, egg pasta, parsley pasta, and beet pasta

Live Edge Cutting Board

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: spinach pasta, squid ink pasta, carrot pasta, beet pasta, parsley pasta, and egg pasta.

Recipe Sources

Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set (similar) | Delicioso Squid Ink Sachets | John Boos Maple Wood Edge Grain Cutting Board (similar) | Trudeau Silicone French Rolling Pin (similar) | Zwilling J.A. Henckels Professional “S” 7-Inch Hollow Edge Santoku Knife (similar) | IGC Live Edge Cutting Board (similar)

This post updated from an article that originally appeared on December 5, 2014.

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