We can’t very well have a blog about Italian food without covering the ins and outs of homemade pasta! For some reason it is intimidating to a lot of people but in reality it is one of the simplest things to make. Only a few ingredients and you have a pasta that is better than anything you will find in the store. Homemade egg noodles are a staple in any Italian household and will be featured in several dishes here on Nonna’s Way so we have to start with the basics. Nonna Anna was kind enough to share her recipe with us. This is for your basic cuts and flat lasagna noodles. You can use this for any pasta dish but slight variations make it just right for stuffed pastas such as tortellini. We will cover this in a future post.
A tool used to make homemade pasta is a pasta roller and although you could use a rolling pin, the machine makes light work of it. There is the classic hand crank model that does a great job and is more than sufficient for small amounts but if you think you will be making it often or by yourself the electric models are widely available now. As well, many stand mixers have attachments available for pasta making.
Homemade pasta has just a few ingredients so it’s not complicated but kneading it to the right consistency is the trick. Once you have your ingredients ready, build a mound with your flour and make a well in the middle. Once you add your egg mixture, don’t try to mix it all at once or you’ll break the walls of your well and have a big mess on your hands! The ticket is to slowly incorporate the flour with a fork until it isn’t runny anymore and can be worked by hand.
Nonna Anna let’s the ‘rough’ dough sit covered in food safe plastic wrap for a bit. This will allow the flour some time to absorb moisture and make kneading that much easier.
Once the dough has rested and been kneaded, it’s time to choose your shape and size according to what you are making. You start by rolling flat pieces. These can be used in lasagna or cannelloni and are the basis for everything else you can make. Take these flat pieces and cut them by hand with a pizza cutter for a rustic cut or use the cutting attachments from your pasta machine to make fettucini or spaghetti. If you prefer short noodles, you can easily make butterfly pasta by cutting small strips and pinching them in the middle.
So there you have it! Give it a try and you won’t go back to dry pasta I swear! You can make a lot at once as it can be dried or frozen to be used later, see instructions in the recipe.
- 4 eggs
- All purpose flour (enough to equal 3 times the volume of the eggs)
- ½ teaspoon olive oil
- pinch of salt
- semolina flour for dusting
- Break the eggs into a measuring cup and take note of the volume.
- Measure out enough flour to equal 3 times the volume of eggs.
- Make a well with the flour on a working board.
- Pour the eggs into the middle of the well.
- Add the oil and salt to the eggs.
- With a fork, break up the eggs in the well and slowly start to incorporate the flour into the eggs working from inside of the well to the outside.
- Using your hands, form a log with the dough then wash and dry your hands and wrap the log with food safe plastic wrap. The dough at this point has a 'rough' texture and appearance. Let it rest for about 30 minutes.
- After resting, remove the dough from the plastic wrap and knead it until it has a nice smooth consistency and texture.
- Form the dough into a log (about 2” X 5”).
- Cut the dough into ¾” slices and very lightly flour both sides before rolling through the machine. Keep unused dough covered with plastic wrap throughout.
- Using a pasta dough machine, start at the setting with the widest distance between the rollers and pass a lightly floured slice of dough through 3 or 4 times until a smooth sheet of dough is reached, (folding the sheet in half each time before rolling).
- Next pass the sheet through each of the next numbers on the pasta machine just once, working from the widest to the narrowest setting until the desired thickness is achieved.
- Let the finished sheets of dough dry on floured cut pieces of food safe cardboard for about ½ hour.
- Then using the cutting attachment, cut your desired type of pasta such as spaghetti or fettuccine.
- Gently hold the cut end of the pasta sheet with one hand until it is all cut.
- In a long tray, mix equal amounts of all purpose flour and semolina flour (if you do not have semolina flour just use the all purpose flour).
- Run the cut pasta through the flour mixture and shake off the excess.
- Place the floured noodles on food safe cardboard to let dry.
- If storing for future use, once they are completely dried, carefully transfer the noodles to parchment paper and you can make stacks of dried noodles for easier storage.
- You can also freeze the kneaded log wrapped in food safe plastic wrap for use at a later date.
- To cook fresh noodles, place the desired quantity of noodles in boiling, salted water. It is important to have sufficient amount of water and not overcrowd when cooking the pasta so the noodles do not stick to each other.
- The pasta will cook quickly, especially when fresh. Taste noodles to see if to your desired doneness.
- Then drain the noodles in a strainer, add your sauce, mix well and top with more sauce if you like.
- Finally, top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!