Treat your family or guests to fresh homemade pasta using ingredients that you probably already have on hand. It is easy to mix by hand, or you can use a pasta machine or stand mixer. Fresh pasta dough can be ready in under an hour, or you can freeze it or dry it for later. Two popular variations include adding finely chopped spinach or tomato pesto to the dough. The dough can be made into a variety of shapes using special mixer or pasta machine attachments, or it can be hand-cut into flat noodles.
To create a basic homemade pasta dough, gather the following ingredients:
After conquering the basic recipe, you can experiment by adding spinach or tomato pesto to the recipe. Fresh or frozen spinach can be cooked, drained, and finely chopped using a food processor. Adding one cup of prepared spinach or pesto will give color and slight flavor to the noodles, but will affect the amount of flour and water used in the recipe. Carrot or beet juice can also be substituted for part of the water.
If using a mixer or pasta maker, follow the manufacturer's directions. To make your homemade pasta dough by hand, use a bowl, clean counter, or wooden cutting board. Measure flour, stir in the salt and make a small hole in the center of the flour. Place eggs and yolk into the crater and mix eggs until lemon-colored. Stir the oil into the egg mixture, and slowly pour in half of the water while mixing with the flour. Add the second half of a cup of water slowly and thoroughly mix. Add water until dough is soft, but not sticky. More or less water may be required.
Turn the pasta dough onto a lightly floured counter or cutting board and begin kneading. This step is not necessary if you have used a mixer or pasta machine. Using the heal of your hand, press down into the dough, pushing it away from you. Fold over, and repeat, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Wrap the smooth pasta dough into plastic wrap or cover with a tea towel and allow it to rest for at 30-45 minutes. The dough doesn't require refrigeration or warmth during the rest period. Simply set it on the counter, and set a timer. Resting allows the gluten to fully develop, making the dough softer, more elastic, and easier to roll out and shape.
Cut the dough into four even balls. You can either use a pasta roller or a rolling pin at this step. Place the dough onto a lightly floured counter and roll as thinly as possible. Homemade pasta dough will thicken considerably during cooking, so the thinner the better, especially when making noodles.
You are now ready to cut the pasta noodles or skip to the next step for more ideas. There are two easy ways to cut the dough if you're not using a machine. First, fold the dough over into thirds. Using a sharp knife, slice thin noodles and unroll them. The second method is to use a pizza cutter to slice the noodles. With this method, it is not as important to fold the dough, and separating the noodles is much simpler. If you would like shorter noodles, simply slice across the center of the dough after cutting.
If you prefer to create macaroni, spaghetti, or to use your fresh pasta dough for homemade ravioli's you will want to have an attachment for your pasta maker or standing mixer. Some macaroni shapes can be shaped by hand. Garganelli tubes can be made by cutting the dough into small squares and rolling them around a small wooden stick. Texture can be added by rolling it over a grooved board. Remove the stick and allow to dry. To make fusilli, allow the pasta to sit for fifteen minutes, then slice into very thin 1/16th x 3 inch pieces. Wrap each around a thin wooden dowel and allow to sit for a few minutes before removing. They should resemble small springs. Allow fusilli and garganelli tubes to dry before cooking.
At this point, you are ready to dry or freeze your fresh homemade pasta if it is not to be used immediately. A pasta rack works perfectly for hanging noodles to dry. Hang individual noodles one layer deep on the rack and allow to dry for approximately four hours depending on the humidity level and thickness of the noodles. Once they are thoroughly dry, the noodles can be stored for four days in a container, or frozen in plastic bags for up to a month.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add one-quarter teaspoon of salt. Slowly add fresh or dried noodles to the water, keeping them separated. Boil four minutes or until soft, then drain. Homemade noodles can be served with any of your favorite cream or tomato sauces or cheeses. Homemade marinara sauce is a popular pairing.
With such a versatile dough, feel free to experiment with color and texture. Create a beautiful table with added nutrients when you add beet juice, carrot juice, spinach or tomato. This is a great recipe for inspiring young children to learn to cook, and a simple way to impress friends and family with a beautiful table setting.
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