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If you’re just getting started with homemade pasta, this is the perfect recipe. Not only does it use just a few simple ingredients, it’s easy to form into a variety of shapes, or to adapt for different recipes.
I prefer pasta made with semolina flour to the regular “00” pasta flour, in terms of both texture and taste.
Semolina flour comes from durum wheat, and it is made by removing and purifying the coarse centers of the grain. You can also find semolina-type flour made from rice or corn.
Since my Italian friend never wrote down exact ingredient measurements for her recipes, I also referred to this article, just to confirm and standardize a few things when I wrote my own adaptation, which you will find here.
This basic recipe can be used to create a huge variety of different types. You can roll and cut your pasta into the styles and shapes that you prefer by hand, or you can choose to use a pasta machine. If you do choose to go the pasta machine route, it is worth the investment to purchase a good one.
Once your pasta is rolled and cut, you might also consider trying a pasta dryer, which is sort of like a wooden tree. I love these, and think they are very cute!
Cooking by the Numbers
Step One – Nest Up Your Flour
Place the flour on a cool, smooth surface. A stainless steel prep table, marble slab, or a large wooden cutting board works best.
Mound up the flour and make a slight depression in the center so it forms what resembles a bird’s nest or a volcano.
Step Two – Add the Protein Structure
Beat the eggs (if you haven’t already done this) and add them and the salt (I like to use sea salt for this) to the well that you formed in the flour pile.
Step Three – Mix the Eggs into the Flour
Blend the egg and salt mixture into the flour with a fork. Be sure to incorporate the edges and ensure that the dough is well blended.
Step Four – Kneading
When the dough is well blended and has a firm consistency, dust the counter with semolina flour. Knead the dough with lightly floured hands until you are sure it is completely blended, and pliable enough to make the noodle or ravioli shapes you plan to use. This should take about 15 minutes.
You can also knead your dough with a powerful stand mixer, but I prefer the hands-on method.
Step Five – Rest
Form the dough into a ball and wrap it nice and tight with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about half an hour.
This will further help to produce its elastic qualities, which will make it easier to form your pasta.
Step Six – Divide & Conquer
Dust your countertop with flour and split the dough ball into two parts, to make it easier to work with.
Flatten the ball until it is under an inch thick.
Step Seven – Dole It Out, Roll It Out
Dust a rolling pin with semolina flour, and place half of the dough on your floured counter. To roll it out, start by applying pressure while rolling the rolling pin away from you, and applying a little less pressure when rolling it back towards you.
If you will be using a pasta machine or a Kitchenaid mixer pasta maker attachment, you only need to roll your dough out a little. You might even be able to get away with just pressing it into a flattened rectangle that you can feed into the machine.
Extruders are a little different, usually requiring that you feed small balls of a tough-textured dough into the intake chute – my best advice is to refer to the manufacturer’s directions, if you will be making your pasta this way.
Step Eight – Keep Rolling Until You See Daylight!
Back to the handmade method: continue rolling the dough while rotating it and turning it over, until it is thin enough to see through it when you hold it up to the light.
Continue to dust your hands, counter, and rolling pin as needed. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. This might be a nice time to enjoy a glass of wine!
Note that if it gets too tough to roll, or if it springs back into place, let it rest for a few minutes.
Step Nine – Double the Trouble: Flatten Both Halves with Some (Optional) Help
Once you’ve got it thin enough, now you get to do the same thing to the other half! This is where a small child that still thinks such things are “fun” comes into play. If you don’t have one of your own, acquire one from a neighbor.
Once your are finished, let both sit and rest for ten to twenty minutes (the dough, not the child… put him or her to work doing something else. “Make hay while there is sunshine,” my dad always said).
Step Ten – Cut Up or Shut Up
Cut your pasta into the desired shapes, by hand or using a pasta machine. Be sure to use lots of flour, so it does not stick.
Depending on your machine, you should usually begin with the widest setting. Keep folding it and rolling the dough back in until it is the width of the pasta machine, and decrease the width setting until you reach your desired thickness.
Step Eleven – Don’t Be a Wet Noodle! Dry Them Out
Sprinkle the cut pasta with semolina one more time, and allow the pieces to partially air dry. If they are long strands, you can hang them from a dowel, clean hangers, the back of a chair or the aforementioned pasta dryer – anything in your kitchen, really (as long as it’s clean)!
You are now ready to cook the pasta, fill it if you are making tortellini or ravioli, or freeze it.
For a quick and easy meal, I like to mix in a light dosing of a red sauce, along with some feta and couple of other cheeses, and some spinach. Simple, fast, and tasty!
So, what do you think? Will you make fresh, delicious pasta for dinner tonight?
Once you have the basic technique down, the possibilities are endless. Tell me about your own pasta making adventures in the comments, and don’t forget to check out our other super simple Italian pasta recipe for Malfatti.
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu, Mike Quinn, and Kendall Vanderslice.
About Lori Jo Hendrix
Lori was born in southern California and currently resides in Mexico. She is an actress and model who also writes in the fields of nutrition, wellness, and cuisine. Her passions include working as a volunteer with various groups in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured animals.