There is nothing quite like fresh pasta. Much more delicate than its dried counterpart, it brings a completely different feel to any pasta dish. The dough itself is simple with few ingredients and there are many variations using different types of flours or a combinations of whole eggs with egg yolks, or just the yolks themselves. The general formula is 4 eggs for every 400 grams of starch. You can shape the pasta however you like but I’ll be cutting them into tagliatelle in this recipe.
I have always been infatuated with pasta making. My mother only made fresh pasta once a year, before Thanksgiving, when we would make Mille Infranti | Triddo, a traditional Molfettese pasta made of semolina flour, eggs, and parsley. I loved playing with the macchina per la pasta frescha – the pasta roller that clamped to our wooden kitchen table, now dusted with pure white flour to keep the pasta from sticking to the rollers as it was passed through once, twice, and again and again until the sheets were paper thin. I would ask my mom why we couldn’t we make fresh pasta more often and she’d wave me off. “Perche la pasta costs 1 dollar per una box” she would say, switching between English and Italian as she always did.
When my husband and I were engaged and registering for our wedding, I laid my eyes on an Atlas Mercato Pasta Machine and told him I needed it. He looked at me – “we need a pasta machine?”, incredulous after I had already nixed so many other seemingly unnecessary gadgets and appliances. “Yes,” I persisted, “I need it”. He gave in and I still remember opening it at my bridal shower – a gift from the only other Italian family we knew in our town. I was thrilled and it remains my most used kitchen tool.
For my pasta fresca, I used a combination of 00 flour, an incredibly soft and light wheat flour, and semolina flour made from durum wheat. The semolina flour is much more textured and will give allow sauces to cling to the pasta better.
Pasta Fresca | Fresh Pasta
- 300 grams 00 Flour
- 100 grams semolina flour
- 4 extra-large eggs
- Measure out the 00 flour and semolina flour and combine well in a large bowl. Over turn the flour onto a clean work surface, and use the bottom of the bowl to create a well in the center of the mount of flour.
- Carefully crack the eggs into the center of the well. Using a fork, first break each of the yolks, then begin to whisk all of the eggs together. Slowly incorporate the walls of flour into the eggs until you create a thick paste.
- Once you have a paste texture, start to use your hands to pull the rest of the flour into the dough, a little bit at a time, and start to knead the dough with the heal of your hand. *’
- Continue to knead for 8-10 minutes. The dough is ready when it is smooth and elastic. You can test the elasticity of the dough by pressing into the ball of dough with your fingertip. If the dough quickly pushes back up, it is ready. **
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
- Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Work with one piece at a time and cover the other pieces with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap so that they retain their moisture. With the palm of your hand, flatten the piece of dough.
- If using a pasta machine: fold the dough onto itself in thirds and flatten the dough with the palm of your hand – the outer thirds fold to the center. Pass through the machine at the largest setting, “0”, and fold into thirds again and pass through in the opposite orientation at the same setting. Continue to pass the dough through each setting until desired thickness – I pass through up to the setting of “5”. Pass the thin dough now through the cutter attachment to make tagliatelle. Lie flat on a baking sheet and dust with flour to prevent sticking. Alternatively, dry on a pasta drying rack.
- If using a rolling pin: roll the dough into a rectangular shape as thinly as you can, dusting the work surface and top of the dough with flour to prevent sticking. Flip the dough frequently as well. When the dough is rolled out to the desired thickness, fold the dough from the outer edges to the center, and repeat two or three times, dusting with flour between each fold. Use a sharp butchers knife to cut pasta into desired thickness. Lie flat on a baking sheet and dust with flour to prevent sticking. Alternatively, dry on a pasta drying rack.
- To cook the pasta: add pasta to a large pot of salted, boiling water, stirring frequently. The pasta will be ready in 3-4 minutes. Toss with sauce immediately and enjoy warm.
*Depending on the size of your eggs (as they’ll differ slightly), you might not need all of the flour. You want your dough to be smooth and supple. If your dough feels crumbly even after continuing to knead, wet your fingertips in water and gently work this into the dough. Likewise, if your dough feels too wet and is sticking to the counter, dust your hands with a bit of 00 flour.
**The semolina flour will give the dough a bit of a texture – when you are done kneading, you’ll notice the outside of the dough feels a bit rough. The dough will lose this texture and become completely smooth after resting.