Have you ever left your favorite Italian restaurant wondering why it is that their pasta dishes taste so much better than anything you might make at home, even though the recipes are similar? Well, it could be because food that's cooked by someone else always tastes better (at least in my humble opinion). However it's more likely to be because no self-respecting Italian restaurant or eatery relies on commercially available prepared pastas in the same way we do, and makes all their own fresh pastas from scratch, oftentimes adding subtle flavor enhancements that only our taste buds notice.
Of course, there's nothing at all wrong with the pastas that most of us happily purchase from the supermarket each week. In fact, pasta is one of the few foods that are good for us that are also economical to buy. But making your own pasta dough at home is really very simple and, like most things, the more you do it the better the results will be. And that 'Italian restaurant' taste - especially when it's served stirred through a light meat, seafood or vegetable sauce - is its own reward.
The step-by-step recipe below is for a basic egg pasta, with several flavor variations, which you can mix either by hand or with a food processor.
As with making pastry and bread doughs, the quantity of liquid needed can vary, depending on how absorbent the flour is, but if it's too moist, just add more flour, a bit at a time, until the right consistency is reached. Give it a go, have some fun and enjoy eating the results!
Materials and ingredients
- Glass mixing bowls
- Cling film or wrap
- Food processor (optional)
- 10 oz (300 g) semolina pasta flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Selected flavorings (if using) from the list below
- 3 medium-sized eggs, beaten
- For Fresh Herb Pasta: Finely chop 1 oz (30 g) fresh herb leaves, such as basil, flat-leaf parsley and coriander. Add with the eggs.
- For Green Pasta: Blanch 12 oz (375 g) spinach, Swiss chard or other green leaves, then drain well and squeeze dry. Purée or chop the greens very finely. Add with the eggs.
- For Herb and Garlic Pasta: Add ½ oz (15 g) of finely chopped mixed parsley and oregano or marjoram and 1-2 finely chopped garlic cloves with the beaten eggs.
- For Lemon Pasta: Add 1½ tablespoons of grated lemon zest with the eggs.
- For Saffron Pasta: Add ½ a teaspoon of ground saffron to the flour and salt or steep a teaspoon of saffron threads in 1 tablespoon of very hot water and add through a small sieve with the eggs.
- For Tomato Pasta: Add 1½ tablespoons of tomato purée with the eggs.
- For Wholemeal Pasta: Substitute 2½ oz (75 g) of wholemeal flour for the same quantity of semolina (pasta) flour.
How to make by hand
1. Put the flour and salt on a clean work surface and make a well in the center. Pour the eggs into the well.
2. Using your fingertips, gradually incorporate the flour into the eggs. When all the flour is mixed in, you should be able to gather up a pliable dough. If the mixture is too moist, add more flour.
3. Lightly flour the work surface, and knead the dough by pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand and then folding it back toward you. Continue kneading for 8-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. You can also use a pasta machine for kneading, if you have one.
4. Shape the dough into a ball and put it in a clean bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes before rolling and cutting.
How to make - food processor
1. To mix the pasta dough in a food processor, place the flour and salt in the container and pulse to blend. With the machine running, gradually add the eggs through the feed tube. Continue processing for 3-5 minutes or until the ingredients come together into a smooth ball of elastic dough.
This recipe makes about 1 lb (500 g).
Links in this series
- How to Use a Pasta Machine - an Illustrated Guide
If you've been thinking of buying a pasta machine but don't know how to use one, then these illustrated step-by-step instructions will guide you through the major steps - suitable for hand-cranked or electric pasta machines.
Some items you may need
This article was written for Hubpages and published on 8 November, 2009. All text and photos remain the property of The Good Cook.
Ryan Clinton from email@example.com on October 09, 2010:
Great images to follow. OK here I go. I'll give it a try.
Shalini Kagal from India on November 08, 2009:
Thank you for the illustrated, step by step instructions. That doesn't sound too difficult and I'm sure the pasta tastes great!