Homemade Fresh Pasta

There is something hugely satisfying about making fresh pasta. Not only is its taste and texture incomparable to anything you get dried, it is very easy to do, and it is fun! It is a great idea for a dinner party – just knead up some dough, and let everyone roll it out and make the shapes they like. You could choose to prepare several fillings (my good friend Marnie makes sweet onion with ricotta, wild mushroom with mozzarella, and squash with marscapone) and do a ravioli making demonstration. Let everyone make what they want while they mingle, just keep a pot of water boiling on the stove, and a simple marinara sauce bubbling next to it.

Homemade Fresh Pasta

Pasta is such a staple of the North American diet, yet most consider it something that comes in a box, not something to make at home. If you have never made it, you might not believe me when I tell you how straightforward and quick it really is. Just a pile of flour on a clean counter with a few eggs cracked into it. (That’s it, that’s the whole recipe). The kneading is the hardest part – because it is such a stiff dough, you’ll have to put your back into it. (I broke a sweat – does that count as a workout?). After ten minutes of grunting and puffing and knocking the dough around the counter, you’ll need to let it rest for about 30 minutes. This relaxes the gluten, so it will roll out without springing back on itself – you may need the rest, too, if you haven’t been toning those kneading muscles.

(My girlfriends are all trying to tone up for our beach trip to Cuba in April. I wonder if people check out my totally ripped kneading muscles…they are sexy like a six-pack, right?)

You can use the rest time to whip up a simple sauce that will showcase your homemade pasta – when I made fresh fettuccine this weekend, my friend Nicola put together a delicious aglio e olio – lots of chopped garlic cooked slowly in a (very) generous glug of olive oil, finished with crushed red peppers and lots of fresh Parmigiano.

To roll out the pasta, I recommend using a clamp-on roller that you crank by hand. A pasta machine is inexpensive and a totally worthwhile addition to your kitchen paraphernalia. It is possible to roll it out by hand, but with such a stiff dough, I can’t imagine being able to get it very thin (I suppose I would have to bulk up my rolling muscles, first). With the machine, you start by passing a flattened lump of dough through the rollers, using the widest setting. You then change the setting to move the rollers slightly closer together, and crank the dough through again. The pasta gets thinner and longer with each pass through the machine, as you reduce the space between the rollers each time until you get the desired thickness. At this point, you can pass it through the pasta-cutting attachment to make fettuccine or linguine, or else cut it out by hand into desired shapes.

Homemade Fresh Pasta

Really – once you have succeeded in making your own fresh pasta, you’ll be scratching your noodle (haha – I’m so pun-ny!) wondering why you never tried it sooner.

Fresh Egg Pasta (Basic Recipe)

From the Joy of Cooking

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1 tsp olive oil (optional)

1. Pour flour onto a clean counter, shape into a mound, and make a well in the center.

2. Crack the eggs into the well, and beat lightly with a fork, drawing in some flour as you go, until the eggs are mixed and slightly thickened. Use your hands to blend into a smooth dough. If it feels crumbly, add water as needed.

3. Knead the dough until satiny and very elastic, about ten minutes. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes before rolling it out.

4. Set pasta machine’s rollers to the widest setting. Pinch off a piece of dough, lightly flour it, and pass it through the rollers several times, folding it over on itself each time and dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Set the rollers one notch closer and repeat the process two to three times, until the dough goes from lumpy and/or holey to smooth and satiny. Continue to notch the rollers closer together and roll the pasta to desired thickness, 1/32 inch for ribbon pastas such as fettuccine, and paper-thin for filled shapes.

 

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33 Comments

  1. Sarah Makepeace

    February 25, 2009 10:22 pm - Reply

    haha Jenn. You crack me up. I can’t wait to check out your sexy kneading muscles in your sexy bikini! and i just loved your pun ;)

    yummy pasta! that ravioli was amazing! l

  2. pigpigscorner

    February 26, 2009 9:17 pm - Reply

    I love pasta! I’m still trying to convince my fiance that it’s totally worth it to invest in a pasta machine. Wish me luck!

  3. pigpigscorner

    February 26, 2009 1:17 pm - Reply

    I love pasta! I’m still trying to convince my fiance that it’s totally worth it to invest in a pasta machine. Wish me luck!

  4. Ellie

    February 27, 2009 12:17 pm - Reply

    We make fresh pasta a few times a year. So much fun when you have a whole group and several machines running at the same time. We tried out the Williams and Sonoma recipe and rated it against several other recipes, it came out the winner as fresh cooked pasta but it didn’t dry very well. I love my hand crank, but I definitely covet the kitchen aid attachment! My great grandma hand cut hers into the thinnest strands, amazing. Must be just lots of practice to get it right, something I don’t have the time or inclination to learn to do. Beautiful photos on your site!

  5. Ellie

    February 27, 2009 4:17 am - Reply

    We make fresh pasta a few times a year. So much fun when you have a whole group and several machines running at the same time. We tried out the Williams and Sonoma recipe and rated it against several other recipes, it came out the winner as fresh cooked pasta but it didn’t dry very well. I love my hand crank, but I definitely covet the kitchen aid attachment! My great grandma hand cut hers into the thinnest strands, amazing. Must be just lots of practice to get it right, something I don’t have the time or inclination to learn to do. Beautiful photos on your site!

  6. newcook

    February 27, 2009 6:16 pm - Reply

    do you think your’ll be putting up a how to for marinara? tomatoe sauce made from scratch perhaps? i really want to put together a made from scratch dish involving home made noodles and tomatoe sauce and possible some nice chicken to accompany the dish? navigated to this page from tastespotting?
    any way in explaining how to make the noodles with a rolling stick?

  7. newcook

    February 27, 2009 10:16 am - Reply

    do you think your’ll be putting up a how to for marinara? tomatoe sauce made from scratch perhaps? i really want to put together a made from scratch dish involving home made noodles and tomatoe sauce and possible some nice chicken to accompany the dish? navigated to this page from tastespotting?
    any way in explaining how to make the noodles with a rolling stick?

  8. Kevin

    February 28, 2009 7:17 pm - Reply

    That freshly made pasta looks great! I have been wanting to try making pasta.

  9. Kevin

    February 28, 2009 11:17 am - Reply

    That freshly made pasta looks great! I have been wanting to try making pasta.

  10. Barbara

    March 1, 2009 5:52 pm - Reply

    that looks really wonderful. it’s been awhile since I’ve made homemade pasta, you’re providing a gentle nudge … :)

  11. Barbara

    March 1, 2009 9:52 am - Reply

    that looks really wonderful. it’s been awhile since I’ve made homemade pasta, you’re providing a gentle nudge … :)

  12. Sara

    March 1, 2009 6:30 pm - Reply

    Your pasta looks great! I count anytime I break-out into a sweat as a work-out.

    An extra egg yolk or 2 can be a great addition if you don’t have access to fresh eggs.

  13. Sara

    March 1, 2009 10:30 am - Reply

    Your pasta looks great! I count anytime I break-out into a sweat as a work-out.

    An extra egg yolk or 2 can be a great addition if you don’t have access to fresh eggs.

  14. foodess

    March 1, 2009 7:42 pm - Reply

    Pigpig – As soon as he tastes fresh pasta, he’ll be convinced. He should know that this investment is to his benefit!

    Ellie – I’m going to try that Williams and Sonoma recipe next! Wow, your grandma had patience.

    Newcook – a simple tomato sauce that is delicious is just a few cloves of garlic sauteed in several tbsp of olive oil, add a large can of diced tomatoes, a couple tbsp of tomato paste, and let it simmer for a half hour, till it thickens a bit. Blend it (in a blender, carefully, or with an immersion blender), and season with salt and pepper, and minced fresh basil if you have it. The Joy of Cooking has an explanation for rolling pasta out with a rolling pin, if you can get your hands on a copy.

  15. foodess

    March 1, 2009 11:42 am - Reply

    Pigpig – As soon as he tastes fresh pasta, he’ll be convinced. He should know that this investment is to his benefit!

    Ellie – I’m going to try that Williams and Sonoma recipe next! Wow, your grandma had patience.

    Newcook – a simple tomato sauce that is delicious is just a few cloves of garlic sauteed in several tbsp of olive oil, add a large can of diced tomatoes, a couple tbsp of tomato paste, and let it simmer for a half hour, till it thickens a bit. Blend it (in a blender, carefully, or with an immersion blender), and season with salt and pepper, and minced fresh basil if you have it. The Joy of Cooking has an explanation for rolling pasta out with a rolling pin, if you can get your hands on a copy.

  16. nicola

    March 2, 2009 9:08 am - Reply

    aahh!! i am famous on the internet! hahaha. yeah, the pasta was great. i haven’t made the aglio e olio for a really long time and it’s a finicky process where it’s easy to cross the line into burniness. i am going to make it for you again, and i won’t screw it up and it will be 5000x more awesome. the garlic bits make the dish!!

  17. nicola

    March 2, 2009 1:08 am - Reply

    aahh!! i am famous on the internet! hahaha. yeah, the pasta was great. i haven’t made the aglio e olio for a really long time and it’s a finicky process where it’s easy to cross the line into burniness. i am going to make it for you again, and i won’t screw it up and it will be 5000x more awesome. the garlic bits make the dish!!

  18. foodess

    March 2, 2009 6:02 pm - Reply

    It was perfect, Nicola, I loved it! But I really won’t fight hard if you want to make it for me again…

  19. foodess

    March 2, 2009 10:02 am - Reply

    It was perfect, Nicola, I loved it! But I really won’t fight hard if you want to make it for me again…

  20. brilynn

    March 3, 2009 1:01 am - Reply

    I love fresh pasta, it can’t be beat! Fun to make too!

  21. brilynn

    March 2, 2009 5:01 pm - Reply

    I love fresh pasta, it can’t be beat! Fun to make too!

  22. TasteHongKong

    March 3, 2009 4:06 pm - Reply

    Can’t it be more simple, right? Thanks for the idea.

  23. TasteHongKong

    March 3, 2009 8:06 am - Reply

    Can’t it be more simple, right? Thanks for the idea.

  24. Linda

    April 13, 2009 2:24 pm - Reply

    I recently tried making pasta with my new machine…. I have a question: once cut, how do I prevent all the pieces from sticking together in one big lump? I read that letting the dough dry out before and after helps. Should I just cut the pasta and lay it out flat?

    • foodess

      April 13, 2009 6:07 pm - Reply

      I toss it with a bit of flour after it’s cut to keep it from sticking together. Then I keep it covered with a clean dishtowel to prevent it drying out, and I use it right away. Alternatively, you can hang the strands over a clothes hanger to dry. But dried, homemade pasta still needs to be refrigerated (keeps for about 3 days) or frozen (for longer storage).

  25. Linda

    April 13, 2009 6:24 am - Reply

    I recently tried making pasta with my new machine…. I have a question: once cut, how do I prevent all the pieces from sticking together in one big lump? I read that letting the dough dry out before and after helps. Should I just cut the pasta and lay it out flat?

    • foodess

      April 13, 2009 10:07 am - Reply

      I toss it with a bit of flour after it’s cut to keep it from sticking together. Then I keep it covered with a clean dishtowel to prevent it drying out, and I use it right away. Alternatively, you can hang the strands over a clothes hanger to dry. But dried, homemade pasta still needs to be refrigerated (keeps for about 3 days) or frozen (for longer storage).

  26. Barry ,%9

    May 3, 2009 6:17 am - Reply

    what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink – bookmark this site? Regards.

  27. Barry ,%9

    May 2, 2009 10:17 pm - Reply

    what a great site and informative posts, I will add backlink – bookmark this site? Regards.

  28. des

    November 23, 2009 3:42 pm - Reply

    Whenever I hear, ‘It can’t be done,’ I know I’m close to success.

  29. des

    November 23, 2009 7:42 am - Reply

    Whenever I hear, ‘It can’t be done,’ I know I’m close to success.

  30. Joaquin Marinaro

    December 28, 2009 8:51 pm - Reply

    A nice recpe idea you have here. I am always looking for more ideas to keep the kids entertained with and this one might just do the trick so thank you for sharing it.

  31. Joaquin Marinaro

    December 28, 2009 12:51 pm - Reply

    A nice recpe idea you have here. I am always looking for more ideas to keep the kids entertained with and this one might just do the trick so thank you for sharing it.