It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
Making fresh pasta is like alchemy -- but a very democratic type of alchemy that anyone can take part in. When you tell someone that you made your own pasta, they will look at you like you're a wizard, and only you will know how easy it was. If you ever got your hands on some play dough as a kid, you’re already half of the way there. And if you had one of those Play-Doh sets that extruded the Doh, you’re basically an expert.
More: Give your pasta the treatment it deserves -- don't skimp on the sauce.
It’s so simple: flour, eggs, and salt. No special flour, no special eggs, no special salt required. Once you nail down the basic technique, there’s no end to the variations. Swap in some semolina flour, like they do in southern Italy. Try a spelt or whole-wheat dough. Up the number of egg yolks and decrease the whites for a richer pasta, or replace some of the eggs with puréed spinach or beets. It can be as complicated as you want to make it, but at its heart, the recipe is as basic as it comes.
Making homemade pasta is not quite as simple as opening a box of dried pasta, but it serves a different purpose. Lasagna with dried noodles doesn’t stand a chance to lasagna made with fresh ones, and that long-simmered ragu is even more delicious if you serve it with delicate, fresh pasta.
More: How to make any type of lasagna, no recipe required.
The biggest bonus is that you can customize your pasta into any shape you want. I happen to prefer a heftier noodle, so I roll my pasta a little thicker than most. From there I can cut it into linguine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, or any crazy shapes I like. It’s very gratifying to have absolute pasta-power.
Nigella once said that she makes fresh pasta and meatballs when she wants to “shimmer into Italian mamma mode.” Sophia Loren once said of her famous figure, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” And now I am telling you it’s totally doable, even if you’re not Nigella or Sophia.
3 large eggs
300 grams all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Place the flour onto a clean surface and spread it out in a circle, making a well in the middle.
Crack the eggs directly into the well and sprinkle on the salt. Adding the salt to the eggs at this stage ensures that it dissolves and gets distributed evenly.
Using a fork, start gently whisking the eggs just to break them up. Once the eggs are mostly beaten, begin to carefully incorporate the flour from the walls of your well. Go slowly, and try not to break your flour dam, but it's not the end of the world if you do.
Keep combining the egg and flour slowly until you have a thick paste. Now's the time to roll up your sleeves and do the final bit of flour incorporation and kneading.
With your hands, scoop any remaining flour into the eggs and begin kneading the pasta dough. You can knead vigorously for a solid five minutes, or more relaxedly for 10 -- just keep going until all the flour is incorporated and the dough feels elastic and smooth.
Once the dough is kneaded, wrap it in plastic and place it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour (or overnight).
Divide the dough in four and flatten each piece into an oval shape. Flour the dough well, and begin passing it through the widest setting of your pasta machine.
After a few goes through on the widest setting, fold the pasta back onto itself, and roll it through again. Do this several times on the widest setting. Laminating the dough like this ensures that your pasta will have good texture and bite.
After the dough is laminated, you can keep reducing the width setting on your pasta machine until the dough is at the thickness you like, remembering to flour the pasta and the machine if anything is sticking.
Once the sheets have reached your preferred thickness, the pasta can be used straight away for ravioli, cannelloni, or lasagna. You can leave the sheets to dry in a cool, dry place before cutting them into noodles, such as the pappardelle pictured here. Make sure to generously flour the noodles with all-purpose flour or semolina before placing them into nests. The pasta will sit happily out of the fridge for 8 hours after you cut it.
If you're drying the pasta for good, leave it in the open air in a cool dry area away from a window. Overnight is usually sufficient to dry the noodles out fully, but if the weather is humid, you may need a little longer. If you have a pasta drying rack, now’s the time to put it to use.
Photos by Sarah Coates