Fresh pasta is a completely different product from dried pasta. Fresh pasta is typically made from eggs and all-purpose or “00” flour, which is a very finely ground flour from Italy. Whereas, dried pasta dough is typically made with water and semolina, a flour with a much higher gluten content. The structure of semolina pasta dough makes it sturdy enough to be forced through extruders into the numerous shapes we see in the grocery store. Also, semolina pasta dries very well which results in a product with a long shelf life. Flour and egg pasta dough, on the other hand, is more delicate and best enjoyed fresh. Fresh pasta is easy to make at home and can be rolled and cut by hand, or by using a pasta machine. This is Sur La Table‘s recipe that we followed at my recent Influencer Pasta Class Event.
Here are a few guidelines for making and using fresh pasta.
Making Fresh Pasta
- The classic ratio for fresh pasta dough is 3 parts flour to 2 parts egg, which works well if you weigh your ingredients. Do this by placing a large mixing bowl on a digital scale and zeroing out the weight. Add 1 egg for each main-course serving you want to make into the bowl and then add 1 1/2 times that amount of flour.
- If you do not have a digital scale, you can use the following formula, taking into account that you may need to add a little more flour if the dough is too wet. Each large egg weighs about 2 ounces, while each cup of flour weighs about 5 ounces. So, if you want to make 4 main-course servings of pasta, combine 4 large eggs (8 ounces) and a scant 2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) of flour.
- Traditionally, pasta is made by piling the flour on a work surface, making a “well” in the center, adding the eggs and mixing everything together. To make the process easier to handle, place the flour in a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients and turn everything out on a work surface for kneading.
- Kneading pasta in quantities typically made at home is best done by hand. To knead, gather the dough in a ball, press downward on it with the heel of your hand, fold the dough onto itself and repeat. Properly kneaded pasta dough should be very smooth and supple but not sticky, which should take 5 to 10 minutes.
- It is important to allow the dough to rest, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 10 minutes and up to an hour at room temperature before rolling. If you try to roll the dough before it rests, the dough will be too elastic and will spring back when rolled.
- When rolling pasta dough, make sure to flour it generously with semolina to prevent sticking. When the pasta sheet emerges from the rollers, catch it on the back of your hand, rather than with your fingertips, to avoid making indentations in the dough sheet.
- Pasta dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to 24 hours or wrapped in airtight packaging and frozen for up to a month.
Fresh Pasta Dough
Yields: 4 servings
- 2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) Italian-style “00” or unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Semolina flour, for dusting pasta and surfaces
- To make dough: Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Make a “well” in the center of the flour mixture and add eggs and oil. Using your fingers, blend the eggs into the flour mixture, stirring the flour in from the sides of the well and working outwards. When the pasta dough is thoroughly mixed, turn it out on a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until it is smooth and flexible but not sticky, adding small amounts of flour as needed; about 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour at room temperature.
- To roll out and cut dough: Secure a pasta machine to the edge of a long countertop. Using a bench scraper, cut the dough into 4 pieces. Keep extra dough covered in plastic wrap while working with one piece. With a rolling pin, roll the piece of dough into a rough rectangle that will fit inside the widest setting of the pasta machine. Roll the dough through the machine, catching it with one hand as you roll with the other. Take the dough and trifold it like a letter. Turn the dough so one open end faces the machine and roll it through on the widest setting again. Fold, turn, and roll once more on the widest setting.
- Continue rolling the pasta through the machine without folding, adjusting the rollers to a smaller setting each time, until the desired thickness is reached. If the pasta sheet becomes too large to handle, use a bench scraper to cut it into more manageable lengths and continue rolling.
- Cut sheets to desired shapes and sizes, toss with semolina flour and set aside covered with a clean kitchen towel. The pasta can be cooked immediately or covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours before use.