Preparing Fresh Pasta

Cook, How-To, Learn, Try This at Home, Weekend Project

Fresh pasta dough turns the task of making a favorite dinner into a fun activity for the whole family. In her book Family Meals, award-winning chef Maria Helm Sinskey explains how she gets her daughters involved in the kitchen by letting them help knead, roll and cut the dough:

 

We eat fresh pasta once or twice a week. I pull pasta dough from the refrigerator and put it on the counter to warm up before rolling. When my daughters discover it sitting there, the fight begins over who gets to roll it out.

 

While my daughters think rolling out the dough is fun, I find it cathartic. I love the feel of the smooth, shiny dough as it passes over my hand, through the machine and out the bottom, just a little bit thinner each time. It is gratifying to see the pile of finished pasta getting higher and higher as the rolled dough is cut into ribbons. You can roll quite a bit in a very short time, and once it is rolled and cut, it cooks in a flash.

 

As a rule of thumb, thinner pastas are more suited to light and delicate sauces, while thicker pastas can stand up to rich, meaty sauces.

 

Fresh pasta dough is easily cut into varying thicknesses with either a machine cutter or by hand. The following ribbon pastas are listed from the thinnest to thickest width. Spaghetti cut by machine or hand will be slightly square, not round, in shape.

  • Spaghetti: 1/16 inch thick
  • Linguine: 1/8 inch thick
  • Tagliatelle: 3/16 inch thick
  • Fettucine: 1/4 inch thick
  • Pappardelle: 1 inch thick

 

To cut with a machine

Attach the appropriate cutter to your pasta machine, and feed the pasta sheet through the cutter according to the manufacturer’s directions.

 

To cut by hand

If your pasta machine does not come with cutters for all widths, cut your pasta sheets into 12-inch lengths, dust with flour or semolina and roll tightly. Use a knife to cut the desired width and then unroll the pasta, shake and dust with flour and lay on a tray.

 

Once the pasta is cut

Lay the cut pasta on a rimmed baking sheet dusted with flour. Pasta can be cooked immediately or allowed to air dry, uncovered, for up to 2 hours.

 

What you’ll need to make fresh pasta

 

1 large bowl and 1 small bowl

Wooden spoon

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup semolina flour

1 1/2 Tsp. kosher salt

Whisk

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp. plus 2 Tsp. cold water

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Plastic wrap

Rolling pin

Hand-cranked pasta machine

 

1. Prep the ingredientsIn the large bowl, using the spoon, stir together both flours and the salt. In the small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water and oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Mix it upMake a well in the flour and add the egg mixture to it. Using the spoon, mix the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until combined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Knead the doughLightly flour a work surface, and turn the dough out onto it. Knead until smooth and elastic — like stiff Play-Doh — about 5 minutes. If the dough is too dry, add drops of water, a few at a time. If too wet, add flour, a big pinch at a time.

 

 

 

 

4. Make dough disksCut the dough into thirds, and flatten each piece into disks 1/2-inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 45 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If the dough has been chilled, bring it to room temperature (about 20 minutes) before rolling.

 

5. Roll out the pastaUsing the rolling pin, roll the dough disk 1/4 inch thick. Adjust the rollers of the pasta machine to the widest setting. Run 1 piece of the dough through the rollers 3 times, folding the dough in half each time, and flouring it lightly if it begins to stick. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

 

 

 

6. Keep on rollin’Adjust the rollers to the next narrowest setting and feed the dough through each progressively narrower setting until you have a long, thin, smooth sheet and the dough has run through the narrowest setting. Dust lightly with flour if the dough becomes sticky. It should be thin enough to see your hand through it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. Set asideDust the pasta sheet lightly with flour, fold into thirds and wrap in plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature until ready to use, up to 30 minutes, or refrigerate up to overnight. Repeat with the remaining dough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once your pasta is ready, the rest is easy! Try one of these delicious, family-friendly pasta dishes from Family Meals:

2 comments about “Preparing Fresh Pasta

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