When I was in culinary school, back in the olden days, my Italian instructor made pasta by hand. He rolled it out with a rolling pin, then coiled it up and sliced it with a knife into linguini. It looked so easy that I went home that night and tried it myself. I was impressed with myself, but my friends refused to eat it. I believe the exact words were “inedible”. It seems that I didn’t roll the dough out quite thin enough, so as they cooked, they puffed up into semolina pontoons. I suggest purchasing a pasta machine for best results (and to keep your friends). Plus, I tried to get fancy by making squid ink black pasta (I think it must have been Halloween), and I wasn’t quite ready for such leaps of creativity. My cat liked it though.
I have been thinking a lot about ravioli. A lot. But before we can make the ravioli, we need to get a grip on homemade pasta. Make this first recipe into fettuccini, and top it with a simple sauce. (Brown Butter!!!!!) Or use it in sheets to create the world’s best lasagna. Next week, we will talk about pasta shapes and fillings.
1-3/4 cups semolina flour (also sometimes called pasta flour)
2 eggs, beaten
1/4-1/2 cup water – as needed
- In a large bowl, combine semolina and eggs, and mix until the egg is well absorbed. Add water slowly, a little at a time, and stir until a firm, dry dough is formed. The dough should look crumbly, but hold together when compressed. Knead for 3-4 minutes, until smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
- Divide the dough into three portions. Work with one at a time, and keep the rest refrigerated. Run the dough through the pasta machine rollers, starting at its widest setting (usually #1). Pass the dough through the rollers, fold it, and pass it through again, 4-5 times on the widest setting. As you do this, you will notice that it is becoming smoother, and more manageable. The machine is essentially kneading the dough. Try to keep the strip of dough from getting too wide by folding it lengthwise occasionally. When it is perfectly smooth, start passing it through each descending width of the machine. Make only one pass through each number, unless you encounter a tear or hole. Dust with extra semolina as needed to prevent sticking. As the dough gets longer and longer, cut it in half so you’ll have manageable sized strips to work with. When you have reached the thinnest width (usually #7) the pasta is ready to cut, form, or cook.
- Pass dough sheets through the cutter attachment of the pasta machine, or use any number of cutting tools, including pizza/pastry wheels, embossed rolling pins, or a chitarra (a pasta “guitar”). Dry long strands by hanging over a dowel (or a fancy pasta drying rack) or toss strands immediately in more semolina and set aside in loose piles. Continue with remaining dough.
- To cook fresh pasta, use an extra large pot of boiling salted water. At the rolling boil, add pasta, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes. Drain and dress as desired.