At the risk of sounding like a ‘foodie’, homemade egg pasta is my food heaven. Though you can easily buy fresh pasta nowadays in most supermarkets, the satisfaction you get from working the pasta dough, rolling it, cooking it and finally eating it with a simple dressing is far greater than buying fresh pasta and way higher than any dried pasta. Homemade pasta isn’t something you do when you don’t have time and the best durum wheat dried pastas are perfect for an everyday meal. However fresh pasta is a treat to save for those times when you want to experience a true ‘foodie’ experience.
I first made pasta nearly 20 years ago, before I owned a pasta machine, and though the results were okay, I knew that a little perseverance would pay off in the long run. The recipe and method was simply as follows;
- 115g (0.25 lb) of strong flour
- 1 egg
- 0.5 tsp of salt
I poured the flour onto the counter with the salt and made a small well in it. I cracked the egg into the well and then gently started to incorporate the flour into the egg. Once the dough was forming a dough, I started to kneed it for about 5 mins, then wrapped it in plastic wrap and allowed it to rest in the refrigerator for a hour. I then rolled out the dough as thin as I could with a rolling pin and plenty of flour, cut it into long ribbons of tagliatelle and dropped them into rolling boiling salted water. The pasta tasted better than dried, but since I wasn’t able to roll the dough thin enough it was quite thick and soggy.
Though it is possible to roll pasta dough thin enough with a rolling pin, it is better to buy a pasta machine to take the effort out of the task if you intend to make it regularly. As well as helping produce ultra thin pasta dough, most pasta machines come with attachments for making different pasta types such as Lasagnette, Ravioli, Tagliatelle, Trenette, Fettuccine, Spaghetti, Angel Hair and Gnocchi.
You can make fresh pasta from all-purpose flour or ‘doppia zero’ (00) super fine flour if you can get a hold of it, but in my opinion homemade pasta made from ‘semola di grano duro’ (durum wheat semolina flour) is far better. The only problem is trying to get a hold of it. I have searched high and low to find some semolina flour in reasonable quantities for a reasonable price, but it is quite hard to track down. If you are lucky enough to find it, make sure it is semolina flour and not ordinary semolina, as this is too coarse for making pasta.
How to make semolina pasta
- 1 cup (160g) of durum wheat semolina flour
- 0.5 cups (80g) of plain (all purpose) flour
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp of water
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 0.5 tsp of salt
- some more semolina flour of dusting
- Mix together the water, egg and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the flours.
- Using a fork, mix together the ingredients until they start to form a dough.
- Using floured hands kneed the dough for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator for an hour to rest. You can also split the dough into smaller pieces and freeze some for another day.
- Work the dough using your hands into a flattish disc about the width of your pasta machine and set the machines rollers to the widest setting (usually number 1).
- Place the dough into the mouth of the rollers and turn the handle quite slowly. Capture the pasta with your other hand and once it has completely passed through the rollers, lay it out on a well floured work surface and sprinkle with some more flour.
- Repeat step 6, but decrease the gap between the rollers on the pasta machine one step at a time until your reach the narrowest setting. Since the sheet of pasta will increase in length between each setting, you may wish to cut the sheet in half to make it easier for handling.
- Allow the pasta sheets to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting. If you have a specific attachment on your pasta machine such as Tagliatelle or Fettuccine you can run the sheet through that, or you can cut the sheets into strips by hands, or make ravioli. It is up to you, want pasta shape you wish to make. Whatever pasta shape you make, use plenty of flour to stop them sticking together.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil and drop your pasta in a little at a time. It should only take a couple of minutes to cook, and it will start to float to the top of the water when it is done. Test a piece with you teeth to ensure it is ‘Al dente’, i.e. not too soft, but with a little bite.
- Drain the pasta and mix it with a little olive oil. Add a sauce or dressing, season and then serve. Buon appetito!