Making homemade pasta in Italy is an ancient art: from the fresh pasta sheet you get tagliolini or tagliatelle, ravioli or tortellini and the everlasting lasagna. It does not take long to make a good fresh homemade pasta: 15-20 minutes for a nice smooth and elastic dough, 30 minutes of rest, 15 minutes to roll out… in about 1 hour fresh homemade pasta is ready!
In this article we will tell you how to make homemade pasta, what are the tricks to keep it from drying out, which is the best way to roll out the dough and much more!
Which Flour for Homemade Pasta?
Some people prefer a finer pasta, so they must use a white flour (soft wheat flour); others love a rustic taste, which can be obtained by adding percentages of durum wheat flour to soft wheat flour (e.g. 50% flour “00” 50% durum wheat flour as in this recipe). In place of the flour “00” you can use durum wheat flour, which is richer in protein, so you can get a pasta dough with a top cooking seal.
So, the basic recipe of homemade pasta wants the flour “00” or durum wheat or mixed; for 400 g (14 oz) of flour it takes 4 eggs of at least 70 g (2,5 oz) each.
Salt: Yes or No?
According to the currents of thought of Emilia Romagna region (home of fresh homemade pasta), salt should not be added to the dough but only to boiling water; according to others, however, a pinch of salt would not hurt …
Homemade pasta made without eggs (flour and water), wants a pinch of salt and warm water to facilitate hydration of the starch. With the dough without eggs usually you get pasta like cavatelli, trofie, orecchiette, bucatini, fusilli, strozzapreti. For tagliatelle, tagliolini, lasagna and stuffed pasta it’s better using the traditional dough with eggs.
- 200 g (7 oz) of “00” Soft Wheat Flour
- 200 g (7 oz) of durum wheat flour
- 4 eggs of at least 70 g (2,5 oz) each (1 egg every 100 g of flour)
How to Make Italian Homemade Pasta
Pasta Dough Recipe Directions
To make this recipe we used a flour mixture made with 50% flour “00” and 50% durum wheat flour that we find perfect both for the dough and for the cooking. That said, let’s show you how to make Italian homemade pasta.
Step 1) – Place the flours on the kitchen table – or in a bowl – and make a well in the center. For those who are making homemade pasta for the first time we suggest using the bowl because the work will be easier. Then pour the eggs in the well.
Step 2) – With the help of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flours, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined. Knead the pieces of dough together. At this point, if you are using the bowl, remove the dough and place it on the table or try this non-slip mat that sticks to the table for rolling dough. Now you have to knead and work it with your hands for about ten minutes. Pay attention: if the dough is too soft and sticky, add flour; if it is too hard and with too much flour yet, add water. This is the hardest work but it’s necessary. If you don’t knead the flours with the eggs very well, the dough will be soft when cooked and not al dente as it should be.
Step 3) – After ten minutes, make a big ball and wrap it in a cling film. Let it rest for 15/30 minutes. The cling film is usefull not to dry out the dough and let it go crusty around the edges while rolling it.
How to Roll Homemade Pasta Dough to Make Lasagna Sheets
Many people think Italian women love roll the dough with their hands. THIS IS A FALSE MITH! Our grandmothers could not do otherwise but nowadays there are so many tools that come to handy. Yes sure, you could opt to roll the pasta dough by hand using a long wooden rolling pin, but in our opinion a pasta maker machine makes for far less work.
So let’s say that a pasta machine is necessary in every kitchen. We use Imperia pasta maker machine: amazingly easy to use and highly versatile. It reduces the preparation time and the result is even better than handmade pasta rolled by a wooden rolling pin. We suggest the Electric Pasta Maker Motor; easy to attach and use on your Imperia Pasta Machine
That said let’s start.
Step 4) – First make sure that your pasta maker machine is clamped firmly to a clean surface. Dust your work surface with some flour, using NOT THE “OO” FLOUR but THE DURUM WHEAT FLOUR, that’s important. Take a lump of pasta dough the size of a tennis ball and press it out flat with the palms of your hands.
Step 5) – Roll the lump of pasta dough through the widest setting of your pasta machine. Remember to dust the pasta dough with durum wheat flour if you feel it’s becoming sticky.
Step 6) – Fold the pasta dough in half and then again in half.
Step 7) – Then (again) roll the lump of pasta dough through the widest setting of the pasta machine. Repeat the process for 3/4 times (roll-fold-roll). You have to work the dough till it’s smoother.
Step 8) – Now you can start to roll the dough through all the remaining settings of your pasta machine, from the widest to the narrowest. We have noticed that the second-last setting is ideal as a thickness for homemade pasta like tagliatelle, tagliolini, pappardelle and even lasagna (about 1 millimeter). If you’re making a stuffed pasta like ravioli or tortellini, you’ll need to roll it down slightly thinner.
Step 9) – So finally, to make lasagna sheets roll out the dough until you have a long strip of 1 millimeter thick. Then cut it into 2/3 rectangular pieces. Now the lasagna sheets are ready. Do not forget to dip them 1 minute in boiling salted water and let cool and dry on kitchen towels before using them for your lasagna recipe.
How to Make Tagliatelle/Fettuccine
Roll out the dough following the instructions of the recipe above until it reaches a thickness of about 1 mm (which with Imperia pasta maker machine is the second-last settings). Then pass the sheet of dough (which you have previously floured) through the blades used to make tagliatelle.
And now here is the “problem”: what is the difference between tagliatelle and fettuccine?
Well, we would say almost no one. The difference lies only in the width of the pasta strips, although there is not always agreement on the measures. Fettuccine must have a width smaller than tagliatelle. Fettuccine can vary from 3 to 5 mm while tagliatelle between 6 and 10 mm. The recipe and the method are exactly the same for both.
How to make Tagliolini
Roll out the dough until it reaches a thickness of about 1 mm. As for tagliatelle, every pasta maker machine has a useful tool for making tagliolini. Therefore, flour the sheet of dough and pass it through the blades of your machine. Tagliolini usually have a width ranging from 1 to 2 mm.
How to make Pappardelle
Pappardelle are the biggest long fresh pasta you can make at home. They have a width of more than 1 cm so you can make them by hand. So roll out the dough until it reaches a thickness of about 1 mm then roll it on itself and with a sharp knife, cut it into strips of dough, same width if possible. With this method you can even make tagliatelle and fettuccine. It always depends on the width of the pasta strips.
- Tagliolini 1-2 mm
- Fettuccine 3-5 mm
- Tagliatelle 6-10 mm
- Pappardelle 1-3 cm
How to Make Homemade Pasta Without Eggs
If you want to make homemade pasta without eggs you must know that the method is similar to that of fresh egg pasta: in the well of the flour fountain add a pinch of salt and pour warm water (the amount of water must be about half the weight of the flour: 400 g of flour, 200 g of water). In place of the flour “00”, use only durum wheat semolina so you will get a pasta with more resistance to cooking. With this type of dough you can get many types of pasta shapes, (orecchiette, corzetti, cavatelli, bucatini, trofie, etc), which, in general, have the characteristic of being thick and therefore should not be drained al dente.
How to Store Homemade Pasta
Let pasta dry on a special drying rack or make some nests with your hands and place them to dry on a tray. Either way, if you don’t cook the pasta immediately, store for 1/2 days in the refrigerator (not more). You can even freeze fresh raw pasta in the various chosen formats. For example, you could make tagliatelle and freeze them, so they will be ready to be cooked whenever you want. Arrange them in nests and place them on a tray – that you have previously covered with a little baking paper – with a distance of 1 inch between one nest and another. Then place the tray in the freezer. Wait 1/2 hours for the pasta to freeze. Now take the nests, which will be very stiff, and place them in a freezer bag. Close it with a knot and place them in the freezer. You can keep fresh pasta in a freezer for about 1 month. When you want to cook them, don’t defrost but put them frozen in plenty of salted boiling water. This method applies to all types of fresh egg pasta, such as pasta sheets for lasagna (prepare them and freeze them on top of each other separated by sheets of baking paper), tagliatelle, tagliolini, quadratini, farfalle, ravioli and all filled pasta.
How to Cook Homemade Pasta
Fresh homemade pasta usually has a cooking time ranging from 2 minutes (for tagliolini) to 5 – 8 minutes for larger sizes. The cooking (as for all types of pasta) must have these proportions: 1 liter of water, 100 g of pasta and 10 g of salt. The proportion between water and pasta is essential to ensure that the starch contained in the flour can dissolve in the right amount of water without forming a saturated solution of starch, which would make the pasta sticky and not very digestible. When cooking fresh egg pasta, it may be useful to add a teaspoon of oil to prevent it from sticking.
10 Tricks to Make a great Italian Homemade Pasta
- Use always fresh eggs at room temperature
- A rough surface is the best choice for kneading, therefore it woul be better kneading on a wooden table than on a marble one.
- For a more elastic dough you can add oil to the dough, but just a little bit (1 teaspoon)
- You can use water instead of eggs but the dough will be less flavorful.
- To prevent the dough from drying out, it’s important that there would be an high level of umidity in your kitchen.
- Knead the dough for 10 minutes, pulling it from all sides, as long as it will be smooth and elastic.
- Make a ball, cover with a cloth or a cling film and let it rest for 15-30 minutes
- If you want to color your dough, it’s necessary to add vegetables or spices: spinach, saffron, herbs. Add them during the kneading.
- Divide the dough into three or more lump of pasta; that way it’ll be easier to work them. Remember to decrease the thickness settings of your pasta machine at each step and add flour from time to time.
- Add a little olive oil in the cooking water to prevent the fresh pasta from sticking.