I can’t think of anything better than a bowl of homemade pasta dripping with a ladle full of my grandmother’s famous tomato sauce.
You don’t need to have been raised in Italy or even by an Italian family to create this delicious feast at home. As long as you have a bag of flour in your pantry and a few eggs in the fridge, you can make homemade pasta.
If you happen to have cheese and veggies too, you may even find yourself enjoying a large bowl of ravioli or tortellini after just a few hours of effort in the kitchen.
As you become more proficient in the art of making pasta, you can play with the ingredients and experiment with different types of flour. This recipe is pretty straightforward.
Most Italian grandmas use their hands to mix up their dough, but you can feel free to use your food processor or an electric mixer with a dough hook.
I prefer to work the dough with my hands, in order to adjust the amount of flour and eggs needed. I will admit, sometimes my measurements are not always exact, but my dough turns out perfectly each time. Chalk it up to a lot of experience.
There are a variety of pasta makers on the market these days. To roll out your dough, you can use a rolling pin, a specialized KitchenAid attachment, or a standalone tool.
Hand-rolled pastas can be fun, but I enjoy using my hand-cranked pasta maker to roll out thin sheets of dough, which I then cut into ribbons of fettuccine.
Don’t fret if you don’t have time to whip up a fancy sauce to top off your noodles. Jarred sauce from the grocery store works just as well. Or you can prep and forget our slow cooker meat sauce.
I even have a little secret:
Sometimes I dress up a simple jar of sauce with diced tomatoes, spices, and other fresh or frozen veggies. It’s “almost” homemade!
My grandma would probably shake her head and cluck her tongue at me, but a busy mom has to do what a busy mom has to do.
Don’t worry, most of the time my sauce is 100% homemade. I am an Italian girl at heart, after all.
Plus, there are tons of sauces out there that can be made really quickly, with super delicious results.
If you do not own a pasta machine, you can still enjoy homemade pasta.
After forming your dough ball, split it into four sections and use a rolling pin to flatten them into sheets.
Roll it as thin as you possibly can, generously sprinkling the dough with flour to prevent it from sticking. Using a very sharp knife or pizza wheel, cut the sheets into strips and cook as you would normally prepare fresh pasta, boiling for a few minutes in salted water.
I like to keep my freezer stocked with ravioli or other cheese- and veggie-filled treats. A basic ricotta-filled ravioli makes for a delicious meal on a busy evening.
There are even types of cheese pasta that you can make with the cheese mixed right into the dough, and formed into irregular shapes without boiling – no need for added worry or perfectionism here!
It is also very easy to make, especially when you have a ravioli maker or cutter to help speed the process along.
When preparing fresh pasta for dinner, make a few extra servings to freeze for later. This dish can be prepared quickly on one of those busy nights when you are on the go.
When making homemade ravioli, prepare your dough as you normally would. Next, decide which fillings you would like to include.
Below is the recipe for a basic ricotta-filled ravioli, but feel free to add spinach, veggies, cooked squash, different types of cheese, or meat to this dish.
As with ravioli preparation, you will need a fresh batch of homemade dough to start. Once you decide on your fillings, you are ready to roll.
Choose fillings that resemble a thick, dry paste. Runny liquids will leak out the sides and cause the noodles to explode.
Tortellini make a great addition to soups, as they are perfectly designed to capture broth in their delicate folds.
A two-inch cookie or biscuit cutter is an essential tool for creating this stuffed treat. When your filling is cooled and ready, you will need to transfer it into a pastry bag or gallon-sized zip-top bag with one corner snipped off.
You will also need a pastry brush and a small bowl of water to seal the dough.
Do you have any pasta making tips? Share with me and your fellow readers in the comments below.
About Jennifer Swartvagher
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.