Making Pasta at home is actually much easier than you might imagine. Imagine delicate layers of egg pasta nestled between a spicy tomato sauce and meltingly tender cheese for unforgettable lasagna. Or maybe you’d prefer soft pillows of ravioli stuffed with a tasty ricotta and spinach filling. You too can prepare dishes like this, and many others once you learn the basic technique of making pasta.
You don’t need a kitchen full of equipment to make pasta, but a hand-rolling machine that also cuts is a big time saver. The Atlas model from Italy is an inexpensive brand, and it can be found in most department or kitchen stores. At around $30-40 it is well worth the investment if you think making pasta is something you’ll enjoy. There are many ravioli forms available, but I find it is just as easy to make ravioli by hand. A dough scraper is helpful particularly if you make your dough on the counter or on a pastry board as I do. I also have a few hand cutters that crimp, cut, and seal as you roll them over the prepared dough. Of course having a good pasta pot is very important, and makes preparation much easier. An eight-quart size seems to be the average size available.
The two principle ingredients for making a basic egg pasta are flour and eggs. I use all-purpose unbleached flour as it has high gluten content, which creates fairly firm pasta dough. Large, fresh eggs are the only other ingredients unless a splash of warm water is needed to form workable dough. Generally, I would use 3/4 cup of flour for every large egg added. You can increase this recipe as needed depending on the type of dish you are making, or the quantity of people you need to feed.
To start, mound your flour on a large pastry board, or the counter, and make a well in the center. Break the eggs into this well, and start to scramble each egg with a fork as it is being added. Start to incorporate the eggs and flour by slowly bringing more flour in from the inside edges of the well. Continue adding the flour to the eggs until they are no longer runny. Using your hands now, bring the outside edges in, forming a large mass on your board. Use only the amount of flour needed to form a soft ball.
Begin to knead the ball of dough as you would bread, pushing it down with the heel of your hand. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth and satiny, for about 8 minutes. Wrap the prepared dough in plastic wrap, and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
Deborah Mele 2011
- 1/2 Pound Fresh Spinach (Stems Removed)
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 4 Extra Large Eggs
- Wash and dry the spinach, and place it into a food processor, and pulse until it is well chopped.
- Place spinach in a strainer over a bowl and let drain 30 minutes.
- Return the spinach to the food processor.
- Add the flour to the blender and pulse.
- Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl, and then add a little at a time to the flour mixture, pulsing briefly between additions.
- Once the dough has come together into pellet sized pieces, remove and knead by hand until smooth.
- To Roll Pasta With A Pasta Machine:
- Break off a fist sized piece of the dough and flatten into a disc.
- Flour well, then pass it through the widest openings of your pasta machine.
- Remove, fold into thirds and repeat.
- Do this 4 or 5 times, dusting with flour between each time.
- Now start to decrease the rollers by turning down one notch each time.
- Put the dough through each setting twice until you have reached your desired thickness.
- For stuffed pastas, you will generally roll it to the thinnest or second thinnest setting.