Fresh Pasta 101

By Cinda Chavich

Making pasta from scratch takes some time, but it’s an easy and satisfying way to make a special weekend dinner for family and friends. Here are the basics:

1. Fresh egg pasta is simple — just pulse 2 cups of all-purpose (or Italian “00” flour) with 3 beaten eggs and a teaspoon of salt in the food processor until crumbly, then process just until it comes together. Add a teaspoon of water if the dough is too dry or a tablespoon of flour if it’s sticky. 

2. To make your pasta by hand, mound the flour on your work surface, make a well in the middle and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing with a fork until the dough can be kneaded. Turn it out on the counter and knead by hand for a few minutes until smooth, then wrap in plastic to rest (1 hour or up to 24 in the refrigerator) before rolling.

3. Or make egg-free pasta with flour and salt (as above), mixing in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 cup of very hot water (plus 1/2 teaspoon as necessary) to form a dough, then knead until smooth. Wrap and rest before rolling.

4. Italian grandmothers roll pasta by hand, but a simple hand-crank pasta machine is far easier. Once the dough is rolled into sheets, you can use it for making lasagna and ravioli, or roll through the cutters on the machine for fettuccine. 

5. You can also invest in an extruder for your stand mixer, with various dies to make spaghetti and gemelli, or an automatic pasta machine that promises to mix, knead and extrude a pound of fresh penne pasta in 15 minutes.

6. After the pasta is rolled and cut (or extruded), you can dry it. Long noodles are draped over a drying device (or a broomstick balanced between two chairs) or gathered into nests to dry on cloth or a rack. Fresh pasta can also be frozen.