Small Batch

How to Make Fresh Pasta from Scratch

By • May 2, 2014 • 16 Comments

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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.

Today: With a little assistance from Sarah Coates of The Sugar Hit, making fresh pasta doesn't have to be im-pasta-ble after all.

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. 

Simple Fresh Pasta

Serves 6

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.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Sarah Coates

Jump to Comments (16)

Tags: how-to & DIY, small batch, pasta, fresh pasta, italian, pappardelle, ravioli, cannelloni, lasagna, noodles

Comments (16)

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Liza'skitchenlogo

5 months ago Liza's Kitchen NYC

I love making fresh pasta and am quite successful at it. What I'm not successful at is keeping fresh pasta for more than a day without it sticking to itself or, in the case of a filled pasta, having the filling make the pasta too moist and therefore sticky again. Presently, I either throw filled pasta in the freezer immediately or dry regular pasta. Help!

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6 months ago Horto

how do you store this?

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6 months ago cathy

Jessica, yes, you can freeze fresh pasta. Separate via wax paper or parchment paper, once it's frozen use a freezer bag and it will last a least a month.

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6 months ago Jessica

Can you freeze fresh pasta? How do you keep it from sticking together?

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6 months ago cathy

Fresh pasta there is nothing like it. THE BEST!!!!

Sarah_1000

6 months ago Sarah Coates

Couldn't. Agree. More.

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6 months ago Sister Janet Strong

This is wonderful. I really like recipes for ideas but mostly I do things by feel, smell, look, and of course taste. I love ratios!

Sarah_1000

6 months ago Sarah Coates

Thank you Sister!

Merrill

6 months ago Merrill Stubbs

Merrill is a co-founder of Food52.

Gorgeous photos, and great step-by-step instructions!

Sarah_1000

6 months ago Sarah Coates

Thank you Merrill! This was so fun to shoot!

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6 months ago Magit Van Schaick

To be really helpful, how about a post with tips on how to make various pastas without a pasta machine?

Sarah_1000

6 months ago Sarah Coates

Thanks for the suggestion Magit, that's a great idea.

Karl

6 months ago Karl Rosaen

Karl is Food52's VP of Technology.

Great walk through! Lacking a pasta roller, I've found I can get by with a rolling pin. It ends up a bit bumpy, but delicious nonetheless!

Sarah_1000

6 months ago Sarah Coates

Thanks Karl! The bumpiness is part of the fun of making something at home, right?

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6 months ago Liz B. @ UMAMI LIFE

I've been looking up dumpling wrapper recipes and they're nearly the same recipe. I love how no matter how international you go, it all comes down to ratios. It's almost a comforting feeling!

http://thatumamilife.wordpress... - a clean-eating bento blog! Asian-authentic or inspired.

Sarah_1000

6 months ago Sarah Coates

Absolutely! We all have a lot more in common than we think.