Fresh homemade pasta has a unique bite that you just can't get from dried pasta. And making noodles by hand isn't really all that hard. So let's get to it. Here's how to make homemade noodles!
To make our homemade pasta, we're using semolina flour, a high-protein flour made from Durum wheat. It makes better pasta than all-purpose flour because it develops a stronger gluten structure, which means a more pliable dough. Follow along with the recipe for Fresh Semolina and Egg Pasta.
To make the dough by hand, mound the flour in a bowl or better yet on a flat, non-porous surface -- your counter or tabletop work great. Add a pinch of salt to the flour. Without it, the pasta will taste flat.
Make a well in the mound of flour and crack the eggs into the well. Use a fork to beat the eggs in the well, then slowly incorporate the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture. (If you prefer no eggs in your pasta, we can do Eggless Pasta, too.)
Once the flour is fully incorporated and is too thick to mix with a fork, it's time to knead by hand. Kneading the dough creates the critical gluten structure that holds the pasta together. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook simplifies the process. But kneading by hand is fun -- it connects you to the process. And it's a decent workout, which means you can eat a little extra pasta!
Either way, knead the dough until it is smooth, very firm, and dry -- about 8 to 12 minutes. Depending on the grind of your semolina, the dough might be more or less smooth. But if it feels sticky, dust your dough and work surface with semolina flour and knead until smooth and firm. If the dough is even a titch too wet, it will stick when you run it through the pasta machine or roll it out.
The dough is ready to be shaped when you can set the dough on a clean countertop without it sticking.
Portion the dough into balls. Keep the balls of dough relatively small for easier handling -- about tennis ball-size. As you become more comfortable with the dough, you can shape larger pieces of pasta.
Tightly wrap the pasta dough in plastic and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour to give the gluten a chance to relax. This step makes the dough easier to work with -- keeps it from shrinking and snapping back as you stretch it.
Okay, your pasta dough has been portioned and has relaxed. Now you're ready to make some noodles!
If you're using a pasta machine, dust it with a little all-purpose or semolina flour. While dusting, spin the rollers to coat them with a very thin layer of flour.
Flatten the dough on the end you'll be feeding into the pasta machine. The rollers will catch it and pull it through. Set the rollers to the largest setting. Feed the dough through the machine, fold into thirds, and roll again.
Repeat this process, narrowing the roller settings as you go, until the dough is the desired thickness. The dough should be smooth, shiny, a little moist, and have no cracks or blemishes.
Tip: If you're working with only a portion of the dough at a time, keep the remainder wrapped in plastic to prevent it from drying out.
Okay, your dough is the right thickness. Now it's time to make some pasta shapes! If you like, you can let the dough rest for a few minutes. But not too long, or it will dry out and become brittle.
You can make any sort of thin, flat pasta, including lasagna, fettuccine noodles, and linguine. To make more complex shapes, like penne, spaghetti, or macaroni noodles, you'll need special cutters and pasta machine attachments.
For simple flat noodles, measure a length and cut it off the long sheet. To make fettuccine noodles, cut the sheets about every 12 inches. Attach the fettuccini noodle cutter (it has approximately 1/4-inch slats) to the pasta machine and dust it with flour while spinning the rollers. Feed one end of the pasta sheet into the rollers. The pasta will emerge as beautiful fettuccine.
Allow the entire sheet to go through the cutters, then dust the noodles lightly with flour so they don't stick together.
No pasta machine? No problem. Just roll the pasta dough flat, fold it into thirds, and roll flat again, repeating until the dough is shiny and elastic. To make noodles, cut the sheets into the noodle length you want, then roll the sheets into logs and cut the logs into the width you like. For fettuccine, you would cut the logs every 1/4 of an inch, and then unravel the noodles and sprinkle with flour.
Cooking and Storing Fresh Pasta
Fresh pasta cooks fast! Small shapes can take less than a minute. Ravioli might take five minutes. You can store fresh pasta in the fridge for a handful of days, or frozen for up to a month. But remember, fresh pasta is raw dough, so any moisture can easily damage it.
Check out our collection of pasta sauce recipes.
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VIDEO: How to Make Semolina and Egg Pasta