As a woman with at least 50% italian blood coursing through my veins, there is a pretty good chance that on any given night in my house pasta may be involved. Carbs are getting a bad rap these days with everyone converting to Paleo, gluten-free etc. I can completely understand the appeal because when I eat a carb-free meal I can feel the intestinal freedom, if you will. And truth be told I could probably give up boxed pasta without too many regrets. However, like a bee and his honey, you cannot keep me from a bowl of fresh-made pasta. In many ways, the boxed kind and the fresh kind are totally different species.
I first began making fresh pasta in college. That was a time of great experimentation in the kitchen since I not only had extreme budgetary constraints but was also newly responsible for feeding myself 3 meals a day. I also didn’t have anyone to give me a thumbs up or down on a nightly basis so I felt pretty free to take on recipes that seemed ambitious without fear. Fresh pasta seemed like a daunting task at one point, but it really isn’t so much daunting as much it just requires patience. Ripping off that cardboard top and dumping the dried stuff into boiling water is about the easiest solution out there. But when you have tender, delicious and supple fresh pasta noodles waiting to plump up in the pot – you have to admit that it’s simply irresistible and worth every second of kneading, rolling and cutting necessary.
And you can’t argue with how simple the recipe and ingredients are. Egg, flour, oil, salt. A little elbow grease. The most complicated part of this recipe is also the part that is the most fun – the rolling of the dough through the pasta maker and cutting it into happy little noodly strips.
For this recipe you will need a pasta maker, a large cutting board, a few clean kitchen towels and about an hour or so of your time. You can draw the process out by resting the dough for up to 3 hours, but 15 minutes of rest should do the trick. If you want to cut the elbow grease in half, you can mix your pasta dough in a Kitchen Aid or Food Processor. Just start with the dry ingredients and combine the wet together before adding to the mixer. I prefer the old school method described below, but I’m an old fashioned girl and I happen love the part where I get to pour the egg mixtures into a well of flour. Simple pleasures.
- 2¼ cup 00 Flour (avoid semolina flour)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- On a large cutting board, carefully pour the flour into a little mound. With a spoon, create a little well in the center of the mound. This will hold the wet ingredients.
- In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, salt and olive oil and mix together.
- Pour the egg mixture into the well. Using one hand to protect the side of the mound, begin gradually forking in the flour to the well and mixing until all the flour is combined or until the mixture is too tough to use a fork.
- Continue to combine with your hands, pressing the flour in and turning the dough. Try not to push or trap air into the dough.
- When the dough is combined and the surface feels smooth, form it into a soft ball. Do not feel as though you need to use all of the flour. Every batch of dough has it’s own unique moisture profile. You may not use it all – the dough it ready when it’s soft, supple for slightly firm and smooth.
- Knead the dough with the heel of your hands for about 10 minutes – it should feel soft and elastic.
- Let sit for 15 minutes – 3 hours.
- To roll the dough, cut the ball into 8 equal parts.
- Starting with one of the eighths, set the pasta maker to the widest setting
- Begin by rolling the dough flat and passing it through the roller. Do not stretch or pull.
- After passing it through once, fold the dough into a nice rectangle (optional).
- Pass this dough through the first setting 4-5 times until very smooth.
- Continue to run through the settings, reducing the size each time. You should pass the dough through each setting once dusting it lightly with flour each time
- After the last setting, lay the pasta out on clean kitchen towels to dry for 5-7 minutes. Don’t leave them to sit too long – they will harden and be difficult to cut.
- Finally, using your desired pasta cut (I prefer tagliatelle – the wide & long flat noodle in between fettuccine and pepperadelle) cut your final pasta shape.
- Gently place in boiling water for 3-5 minutes before serving.
- Enjoy with your favorite sauce or seasoning!