I love pasta as much as Oprah loves bread. When I was little, all I would eat was pasta. And not just any pasta. It had to be lightly buttered with maybe a little bit of Parmesan cheese. Definitely no sauce. No parsley. And if it was swimming in butter, it had to go back. I was the Plain Jane of our family.
I still love pasta just as much, but—fortunately—have grown out of my pasta-only phase: Zucchini and carrot “noodles” are growing on me, and I do like spaghetti squash, but there’s something about that chewy texture of flour and eggs I find irresistible.
Last year, a good friend—with some true Italian blood in him—and I tried to make homemade pasta. The recipe was a disaster. After the first epic fail—a hard, dry, crusty ball—we propped two laptops up on the kitchen counter and cross-referenced several recipes and YouTube videos to figure it out.
The embarrassing part? I’m a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, people. Shouldn’t I be able to do this?? He’s a marketing guy, so he had an excuse.
Since then, I’ve been determined to teach myself, then all of you, how to easily make pasta—even without a pasta machine—a recipe you can make in your own kitchen right now.
A San Francisco chef-friend, Shane Thomas, specializes in homemade pasta (think artichoke and fava lasagna or pancetta and brown butter egg yolk raviolo) and spent the afternoon teaching me his tricks. The most important? Just don’t overcook the pasta. Al dente, with a little bite, is best.
And next week, we’re going to show you two quick, but flavorful sauces to toss with your perfect pasta: rustic tomato marinara and a dairy-free pesto.
Watch full recipe video here:
Food La La Recipe: Homemade Pasta
Serves: Main dish for two
- 2 cups “00” flour (type “00” is more finely ground but you can use all-purpose flour)
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-3 teaspoons water (you probably won’t use this)
- Semolina flour
- ¾ cup ricotta cheese (or any other cheese—feta blended with a little cream to soften would be great)
- 2 tablespoons chives, minced (or any fresh herbs on hand)
- Dump flour out on clean counter and form a well. You will put the eggs in the center, so be sure the hole of your well is large enough to hold them.
- Crack eggs into the center of the well.
- Add salt on top of eggs.
- With a fork, lightly scramble the eggs (the flour well should stay in tact).
- Once the eggs are scrambled, slowly start to incorporate a little bit of flour from around the well. (WHY? #1) With your other hand, occasionally push the sides of the well up to ensure the eggs don’t spill out.
- Continue incorporating flour as eggs thicken (will start to look like cooked scrambled eggs). Once the eggs are at this stage, you don’t need to push the sides of the well up because it’s thick enough to hold its own shape.
- Eggs will thicken to the texture of pancake batter and then a ball of dough will form (your flour well will be almost gone by now and you can continue to gently add flour).
- Once you have a mass of dough and leftover flour, you can start squeezing the ball of dough to incorporate the rest of the flour.
Check Dough's Consistency:
- Too wet? Poke the dough. If it sticks to your fingertips, it’s too wet. Add a tablespoon of flour to your counter and knead it into the dough. Add another sprinkling of flour if necessary.
- Too dry? If there’s a lot of flour left on the work surface, or pieces of crumbled dough that won’t come together, it’s too dry. Add 1 teaspoon of water onto the dough and knead. If necessary, add a second teaspoon of water.
- With two hands, knead dough until it feels like the soft texture of your palm.
- The dough is finished when it bounces back, has a smooth surface, and doesn’t stick to your finger.
- Wrap dough in a clean cloth and let rest on counter for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle clean counter with semolina flour.
- Place dough on top of semolina and sprinkle a little more semolina on top of the dough.
- a small rolling pin or even bottle of wine, roll dough into a long rectangle. Note: Dough will contract as you roll but that’s a good sign. (WHY? #2)
- Continue to roll dough until it’s only as thick as two sheets of paper. When you hold the dough up to light, you’ll see thicker areas that need to be rolled more.
- Combine the ricotta cheese with fresh herbs and put mixture into a piping bag.
- Cut tip off piping bag.
- Brush all semolina off the dough.
- Along the top half of the dough, pipe a tablespoon of filling. Leave one inch between each mound of filling. Be careful not to add too much filling (WHY? #3).
- Using a pastry brush or your finger, paint a thin stroke of water along the dough on each side of the filling, and between each mound. (WHY? #4)
- Fold the bottom half of the dough over the top so the filling is entirely covered.
- Use your pinkies to form a half-circle, and shape the dough around the filling so there’s no air trapped inside.
- Repeat that process but with your index fingers pressing along both sides of ravioli.
- Use a knife to cut between the ravioli, trimming the extra pasta dough off the top.
- Use the tines of a fork to press short lines into the three seamed edges. Do not crimp the side where the dough was folded. (WHY? #5)
- Generously sprinkle dough with semolina.
- Fold over itself so you’re left with a rectangle that’s about three inches tall.
- Starting at one end, cut ½” wide slices.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Salt generously (we used ¼ cup) and add a little drizzle of olive oil so the pasta doesn’t stick.
- Add pasta.
- Important: fresh pasta will cook much faster than dry pasta.
- The ravioli are cooked after about 2 minutes (they’ll float when done).
- The linguini are cooked after just 60 seconds.
Psst! Some Recipe Notes:
WHY? #1: It’s important to slowly incorporate the flour so the eggs maintain a runny consistency at first. If you add too much flour at once, you’ll have a ball of rock-hard dough.
WHY? #2: It’s a sign that your dough is made properly. It’s been kneaded enough to develop the flour’s gluten, which is what causes it to contract.
WHY? #3: If there’s too much filling, the seams could burst while cooking.
WHY? #4: The water will activate the gluten and create a glue that holds the ravioli together.
WHY? #5: You might puncture the dough, and the filling will seep out when it’s cooked.
Note: Rolling the dough with the smaller rolling pin was much easier than using the bottle of wine, but if you’re in a pinch, it does work!
Note: After cutting your pasta shapes, gather all your leftover dough and roll back out to make more pasta.
Note: Fresh pasta dough will last up to three days, but wrap it tightly with plastic and store in refrigerator.