Pasta Dough is fun and easy to make. In this post I will discuss the basic steps to follow in making your own pasta at home. The recipe below is for basic egg dough and is great for all shapes and types of pasta. Spinach, beets, tomato paste, herbs and spices are some common additions that can turn this plain dough into something special. See my post on making Spinach Pasta Dough.
To make the basic egg pasta dough, place the flour on a clean working counter and make a well in the center. Add the eggs, salt, olive oil and water to the center of the well and gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet, forming a smooth-soft dough (adding additional water if necessary to make the dough soft). Knead the dough 10 minutes, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Shaping the Pasta
- Once your pasta has set up for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, remove it from the plastic and press it down into a disk on a floured (semolina) work surface. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and rewrap 3 of the pieces in the plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
- With a rolling pin and extra semolina (if needed), roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough seems sticky, dust it with some semolina.
- Set up the pasta machine with a setting of 1 (the highest, thickest setting) and roll the pasta through. Again, if the dough seems sticky, dust it with some semolina. Adjust the thickness to either 5 or 6 (see list below), depending on the pasta shape you are making, and run the dough through the machine at that setting.
- Lay the dough out on a floured work surface and follow the guidelines below to make various shapes (scraps can be reworked into a ball and used again). For longer storage of the pasta, dry it overnight (make sure it is well coated with semolina to prevent it from sticking) at room temperature. Store the pasta in freezer bags. Pasta freezes well, and can be kept for up to 3 months.
Fettuccine or Spaghetti by machine: Roll out to setting 6, and cut the sheet into 10-inch sections. Feed the sheet through the fettuccine or spaghetti attachment on the machine. Dry in a single layer on a baking sheet dusted with semolina.
Fettuccine or Linguine by hand: With a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is 1/16-inch thin. Cut the sheet into 10-inch sections. Dust the sections with semolina and roll them up. Using a knife, cut the roll of pasta into strips (fettuccine 1/4 inch and linguine 1/8 inch). Unroll the strips and dry in a single layer on a baking sheet dusted with semolina.
Farfalle: Roll out to setting 6, and use a serrated pastry wheel to cut the pasta in 1 1/4-inch strips. Cut the strips into 2 1/2-inches long rectangular sections. To form, place your index finger on the exact center of the rectangular piece of dough and with your other hand, pinch on the narrow sides toward the index finger, forming a bow tie shape. Dry in a single layer on a baking sheet dusted with semolina.
Pappardelle: Roll out to setting 5, and cut the sheet into 10-inch sections. Dust the sections with semolina and roll them up. Using a knife, cut the roll of pasta into strips 1 inch wide. Unroll the strips and dry in a single layer on a baking sheet dusted with semolina. See my recipe for Pappardelle alla Norcina.
Shaping the Ravioli
- Follow the instructions for rolling out the pasta dough in the “Shaping the Pasta” section above. Roll the dough out to setting 7.
- Lay the dough out on a floured (semolina) work surface and use a 3-inch round serrated cutter to cut out as many rounds as you can. Have a small bowl available with about half a cup of warm water in it. Wet your index fingertip in the bowl (or use a pastry brush) and gently brush the outside circumference of the circle.
- Using a pastry bag (or teaspoon), place 1 teaspoon of the desired filling in the center of the circle that is wet and place another circle on top of the filling. Work your way around the ravioli, patting the two circles together to work out any air pockets.
- Place the ravioli in a single layer on a baking sheet dusted with semolina while you finish with the remaining circles. Raviolis freeze well. I normally place the entire baking sheet in the freezer to allow the raviolis to freeze individually and then transfer them to freezer bags to be stored for up to 3 months.
Pasta machines make quick work out of rolling dough into thin sheets and then cutting them into a large variety of pasta shapes. There are numerous attachments available for the machine including a ravioli maker. An electric motor can also be added to make the process even easier if you find yourself using the machine often. They are also great for making crackers, scallion pancakes for Peking Duck and wonton skins for thin skinned dim sums.
Egg Pasta DoughCourse: PastaCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
2 1/2 cups pasta flour (semolina)
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup warm water
- Place the flour on a clean working counter and make a well in the center. Add the remaining ingredients to the center of the well and gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet, forming a smooth-soft dough (adding additional water if necessary to make the dough soft).
- Knead the dough 10 minutes, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- This recipe makes a little over 1 pound of dough.