Making pasta is my passion.
I started rolling pasta dough around age 4 or 5. I have very distinct memories of my great grandma GiGi and my aunt working countless eggs into a giant well of flour, to create a dough, that I would then be allowed to “roll into snakes.” It was one of my most favorite days when we made pasta dough. Unfortunately, I lost my great grandmother not too many years later and thus, my homemade pasta making education ended and left me only as an experienced “snake maker!”
Many decades later, another family member inspired me to revisit pasta making. I was gifted a pasta roller, which is the traditional way of rolling fresh pasta. That did it- I was hooked. Hard core. I dove right in and I haven’t looked back. I am now classified as an obsessed pasta maker, and year after year, the obsession grows stronger, and deeper.
What does it mean to be obsessed with the art of fresh pasta? It means I never stop watching videos, reading recipes, taking classes. When I can’t sleep, I think about ravioli fillings and pasta shapes and reflecting on the last dough batch. I think I could reach a true peak of happiness if I could just make homemade pasta all day, every day. (But only if I never had to clean up!)
All homemade, all different shapes, all the same dough recipe.
When I first started this journey, that I now call The Pasta Project, I learned to make fresh pasta dough using the traditional “well method” which I encourage every cook to try at least once in their cooking lifetime. From there I moved to the KitchenAid approach which is still a time saver, and less effort, compared to the hand rolled approach. Then I discovered my favorite method- using a food processor. This method is significantly less messy and much easier than hand rolling. It’s pretty much foolproof.
In the video below I show you how to make pasta dough in a food processor. Anyone can do it!
Making pasta is equal parts science and soul.
The science of fresh pasta
As far as the science part, there is of course the basic recipe. But in addition to following the recipe, it’s also helpful to understand that the temperature of the room, humidity of the room, egg weight, egg liquid density (fresher eggs have denser whites), flour density differences, and even temperature of your work surface impact the final dough. These are the elements that drive my obsession because the more you understand each one of these components, the more consistent your dough becomes.
The soul of homemade pasta
I can’t teach you how to cook with soul, but I can tell you this; You can’t make pasta when you are angry- the pasta knows and it just won’t work. I know it sounds crazy! But it’s the truth. You need to clear your mind, focus only on the dough, and let yourself become one with it for the duration of the time it takes to create it, and bring it to life. I always say “Pasta is my Yoga!”
Fresh Pasta Recipe
With all that said about science and soul, it still takes a basic recipe and you don’t really need to know much more than that. The details I just mentioned take it to a whole other level, but all you really need is a good basic recipe.
Pro Pasta Tips:
- If the fresh pasta dough is still dry after adding all the eggs, it could be because of the size of your eggs vs the size of my eggs. Just add a teaspoon of water at a time until you get the right consistency.
- Trust your judgment. If it’s too dry, just add another egg yolk, or/and a teaspoon of water at a time. If you are using the food processor and if it’s not coming together in the perfect ball, just dump it on a board and knead it. You can do it!
- Use very clean hands!
How to Roll Pasta Dough
After the dough is made, it needs to be rolled out and then shaped. There are a few different methods to choose how to roll out pasta so it’s then shapable and ready to cook.
Option 1: The way the pasta grannies do it with a rolling pin. (That’s not for 99% of us!)
Option 2: The poplar and traditional crank roller. It’s a good option, the way I started and reliable. But it takes practice.
Option 3: The more modern solution and my preferred method is the KitchenAid roller attachment. Learn more.
Different types of Pasta for Different Sauces
The general rule is the wider the noodle, the heavier the sauce. For example, a hearty pork or beef ragu pairs perfectly with a pappardelle pasta, which is a wide ribbon pasta noodle. While a light olive oil and garlic sauce and homemade spaghetti are a match made in culinary heaven. I find the best match for a cream sauce to be Tagliatelle or Fettuccini, both which also work well with a bolognese sauce.