A few weeks ago I wrote about making fresh pasta and my inbox was immediately swamped with requests for the recipe and method. With the help of my trusty side-kick Amy, Labor Day was spent make four mammoth batches of pasta and taking loads of pics just for my lovely, hungry readers!
Making fresh pasta has one of the highest effort-to-reward ratios in all of cooking. It is so simple and so delicious that you will wonder why everyone doesn’t make their own pasta!
I’m going to walk you through making ravioli and fettucini, step by step. I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer’s pasta roller and cutter attachments, but you can make perfectly lovely pasta using a a hand-cranked pasta machine or even rolling pin and a sharp knife.
The cool thing about making pasta is that you don’t actually need a recipe. All you need to know is that you are going to need one large egg and 3 ounces of flour (about 1/2 cup) per person you are serving. Isn’t that easy?
As always, farm fresh eggs are best, but any eggs will do so long as they are large.
For six servings of pasta, we will use 3 cups of all purpose flour or 18 ounces. Measure the flour into a wide bowl.
Using a table knife, make a well in the center of the flour and add six whole eggs to the center. (Don’t worry if the eggs slosh out of the well; that’s why we are making the pasta in a bowl, instead of directly on the counter, as many recipes suggest.)
Using a table knife, stir the eggs into the flour to combine.
When your flour/egg mixture looks like this, you’re done stirring.
Using your hands, pull the dough together towards the center of the bowl and
tump the dough out onto the counter.
Now your going to knead the dough by gently folding the dough over on it’s self
and pushing the dough away from you with the heel of your hands. This dough comes together very quickly.
After a couple of minutes, you’ll notice that your dough is starting to look, well, like dough.
When your dough is fairly uniform-looking, form it into a ball.
Cover with a bowl and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
After resting, cut your dough in half.
And then into quarters. We are going to work with one quarter at a time. To keep the rest of the dough from drying out, re-cover it with an inverted bowl or a tea towel.
If you have a pasta machine (manual or hand cranked), set the rollers on 1 (the widest setting) and feed the dough through the rollers.
If you don’t have a pasta machine, roll one quarter of the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin. Allow the dough to rest for five minutes and re-roll the dough as thin as possible, lightly flouring the surface of the dough, if necessary.
When the pasta comes out of the machine, lightly flour the surface and put back through the pasta rollers on the next highest number.
Continue feeding the dough through the rollers until you reach the #4 setting. By now, you will have a very long, very thin piece of pasta dough. Cut the dough in half, to create a top and bottom piece for you ravioli.
Using a ravioli cutter, lightly mark the bottom sheet of pasta dough, so you will know how far apart to place your filling.
The possibilities for fillings are endless! For this batch, I am using goat cheese mixed with pesto. I also like to fill raviolis with pumpkin puree, pumpkin and goat cheese, & pumpkin and browned, ground sausage. Honestly, just about anything will work so long as you don’t overfill you ravs. (You’ll know you are using too much filling if you have any difficultly sealing them without filling oozing out of the sides.) I generally make three or four batches of pasta at a time, varying the fillings, so my freezer is packed with deliciousness until I have time to make it fresh again.
Working quickly, place the top sheet of dough over the bottom sheet with the filling.
Cut out ravioli.
Remove excess dough and carefully place raviolis on a tea towel on a platter to dry. The tea towel will keep the ravioli from sticking and will wick away some of the moisture on the bottom. (The excess dough can be gathered up and re-rolled.)
Repeat the rolling process with the next quarter of dough. Allow the ravioli to dry for about an hour before using or freezing.
If you don’t have a ravioli cutter, you can cut your ravioli into squares with a kitchen knife, or you can use a wine glass or biscuit cutter to make mezzaluna shaped ravioli. Repeat the process above, then cut circles from the sheet of pasta.
Place the filling in the middle of the circle.
Fold in half, over the filling.
And gently press to seal. If you’re pasta has dried out a bit, you may need to dip a finger in water and run it along the eye of the circle before folding to create a tight seal. Allow to dry as above.
To cook your raviolis, carefully lower them into gently simmering, salted water and remove when the ravs float to the surface, but for no more than 2 to 3 minutes. Over-stuffed raviolis will break open or leak when cooked. Sauce as desired. Handmade ravioli are particularly good with just a drizzle of good quality olive oil and fresh grated parmesan.
To freeze raviolis, allow them to dry for an hour or so at room temperature in a single layer on a platter. Then, place the entire platter (or sheet tray) in the freezer. When the individual ravioli are frozen, remove from the platter and place them in a zip top freezer bag.
Making fresh spaghetti and fettucini is even easier than ravioli! Follow the steps above, putting the dough through the pasta rollers until you reach the #4 thickness setting. Then, switching to the cutter attachment, run the dough through.
If you don’t have a pasta machine, spaghetti may be out of reach but you can easily make parpadella or other slightly wider noodles using a sharp kitchen knife or pastry wheel. Follow the above instructions for rolling out the pasta with a rolling pin as thinly as possible. Lightly flour the sheet of pasta and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
Loosely roll the dough into a cylinder. Using a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut the cylinder into 3/4 wide slices. Unroll the dough, light flour it and gently toss to separate the noodles. Allow the pasta to dry at room temperature for an hour and freeze or use fresh. To cook the noodles, gently lower them into salted, boiling water and cook until al dente. Remember, fresh pasta cooks much more quickly than packaged dried pasta. Sauce as desired and enjoy!
I hope these instructions aren’t daunting- it’s really super-easy. If you have any questions before you get started, post them here.
Many thanks to Amy, and to Zac, who cleaned up flour and did dishes all day long to bring you this post.