Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fresh Pasta (Without a Machine)

I really thought I couldn't make fresh pasta without having a machine to roll it for me. Or that it would take too long to make the dough and roll it out. Or that I'd mess it up somehow. 

Turns out, it's really easy to do. 

The only rule of thumb is 100g of flour (all purpose) to 1 egg. You can make a ton of it by just extrapolating this out. This is not a "never fail" ratio as eggs and flour and moisture, etc are all kitchen specific, but I found it was pretty forgiving and easy to correct any minor moisture issues I had. 

I was experimenting this morning and settled on just 2 "servings" (200g & 2 eggs). I also added a *pinch* of salt and a tiny drizzle of olive oil to my batch, though some say this is unnecessary. I gather that this is all a personal preference thing and the nuances are worked out over time. I just need a place to start.

Anyway, I'm going to be making dinner with the pasta, so I'm going to go ahead and walk through the process of making it and post dinner later tonight. Obviously dealing with fresh pasta by hand can be used for almost anything except extruded pasta. 

Today, I'm just cutting by hand to the shape of Taglierini or Fettucelle which is slightly thinner than Tagliatelle which is slightly thinner than Fettuccine (as I understand it). Basically, they're just thin, flat noodles. 

All you need for this is a flat surface, a cutting board and knife, a fork, a rolling pin and maybe a dough scraper. The pics below are honestly the first batch I've ever made. 

Let's begin!

Fresh Pasta


Begin by weighing out 200g of flour. Place it on your surface and make a little well in the middle.

Crack in your eggs (and add the salt and oil if using)

Using a fork, slowly (and carefully) start to whisk the eggs.

Incorporate the flour from the sides of the well, slowly.

Once it is the consistency of pancake batter, you can fold everything together with your hands. Use your fingertips at first until you have a crumbly heap as per below:

Now we knead. You want to use your palms and thrust your body weight on the dough. It's a bit of a workout, but it's not a deal breaker. I've read anywhere from 9-15 minutes of kneading is necessary. I think I stopped at about 9 minutes. You kind of get the feel that it's as homogenous as it will get. 

Pull the dough into a ball and let it rest for 20 minutes, covered. This, apparently, is paramount for good pasta.

After the dough has rested, you can start to form your pasta. Since I don't have a gigantic surface to work with, I cut the dough into 4 pieces and worked one at a time. 

Flour the surface you are going to be working on. 

Roll out the dough as flat as you possibly can. This, like the kneading step, seemed to max out at a certain thinness. I stopped when I couldn't get it any thinner. 

At this point, you can do whatever you want with the dough. Cut triangles, squares or circles for filled pasta. You can cut little squares for garganelli or simply do freeform shapes. Whatever your fancy. 

Like I said, I'm making long pasta, so I rolled the flat dough into a long tube. You can simply fold it over a few times too, I just wanted to do it this way.

Key here is to over flour the pasta before you roll it up. It'll stick to itself and it is a pain to separate all the noodes out after. 

Cut the noodles as thick or thin as you want. Use your sharpest & thinnest knife for easy cutting.

When they're all cut, simply toss with your fingers to unroll the little noodles. Voila!

Repeat with the other three chunks of dough and let them dry until service on a sheet pan.

I ended up with 11 oz (~311g) of noodles, by weight. 

Remember, cooking time should be 1-4 minutes (depending on how long it's been drying). Just keep your eye on them and taste while cooking. Also remember to liberally salt your pasta water. As they say, pasta water should be "as salty as the Mediterranean". 

Please give fresh pasta a try. It is so much better than I thought it was going to be. I had a bowl with butter and garlic for breakfast this morning, that's how good it is. 



  1. I've been a little intimidated in trying out fresh pasta. this seems less scary now. I'll have to give it a shot. Thanks SAHD!

  2. Since this post was the very first time I ever made pasta I do it slightly different now. I usually break the dough in half (not fourths) and roll it out until you can see your hand (or the pattern of the counter) below it. Then (and be sure to flour it generously) I fold it a few times (flat) instead of rolling it. It makes it MUCH easier to cut your noodles. I also unfurl each noodle and lay them straight on a sheet pan, but that just me being a little OCD.

    I hope yours turns out well!


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