By Freya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Freya is a chef and contributing writer to Food Network.
Making pasta by hand is as satisfying as fooling around with Play-Doh. It’s also a fun group dinner activity. Here, we walk you through each pasta-making step, from making the dough to cooking it. Plus, a roundup of our favorite fresh pasta recipes on Food Network.
The answer to this question largely depends on what kind of pasta you are making.
All-purpose flour is a completely viable option for making pasta. So is bread flour. All you need to do is mix in eggs to add protein to the mix (for pasta to retain its shape and have an al dente texture when cooked, the dough must contain starch and protein). Additionally, you’ll need to knead the dough a little longer to activate the gluten and get a smooth, elastic result.
00 Flour is made from durum wheat which is finely ground to a powder. It contains less protein than semolina flour and makes a soft dough that is ideal for dishes such as tagliatelle, ravioli and linguine. You can substitute soft wheat flour if you can’t find it in your supermarket.
Semolina flour is also ground from durum wheat. It is thicker and higher in protein than 00 flour, making it less elastic. It’s best for pasta that needs to maintain its grooves and ridges while cooking, such as rigatoni or penne.
Pasta dough mixes are also available. For example, King Arthur Baking Company sells one that combines durum flour, semolina flour, and all-purpose flour. This type of mixture can be used to make any pasta.
Here, we will show you how to make pasta with all purpose flour.
First of all, sift the flour and salt in the middle of your cutting board or bowl. Make a well in the middle and beat your eggs and put them in the well. If your recipe calls for olive oil in the dough, add it now. Use a fork to bring the dry ingredients into the wet, starting at the inner rim of the well. Occasionally add more flour to the egg mixture until all the eggs are completely absorbed.
The dough will form a shaggy mass. Using your hands, pull the dough together, mixing the sticky crumbs with the dry. If the dough is too sticky, add a little flour at a time until it is kneadable. If it’s dry, collect the wettest parts and leave the driest pieces to the side. Make a ball and start kneading it with the ankles of your hands. Use less flour or else the pasta will become tough.
Once the surface of the dough is slightly smooth and still slightly sticky, form a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Let it rest at room temperature or in the fridge for 30 to 45 minutes. While the dough rests, the starch in the flour will absorb the water from the egg and the gluten will relax a bit.
While the dough is resting, prepare the rest of the workstation. If you are using a hand-crank pasta machine, make sure it is securely attached to the counter. If you have an electric pasta roller, make sure you don’t have long sleeves or hair that could be pulled into the machine. Set the pasta roller to the widest position.
You’ll need a place to put your pasta once it’s rolled. For cut pasta such as pappardelle or fettuccini, sprinkle the sheet tray with cornmeal or rice flour after you cut the pasta and before it goes into the pasta pot to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Cornmeal and rice flour may stick to the pasta a bit, but when you put the shredded pasta in boiling water, both grains will fall off the noodles and sink to the bottom of the pot, they’re done.
Multiple passes through the widest setting of the pasta maker is a quick and easy way to knead your dough a second time.
Divide the dough into slices. Work with one section at a time and cover the rest. Knead the dough as you turn the crank to the widest setting. Once the dough has gone through the machine, fold it in thirds like you would fold a letter going into an envelope. Roll the dough through the machine to the wideset setting again, with the folded edges pointing straight down the sides of the rollers (otherwise you’ll get an air bubble that will pop and create a hole in the dough). If the dough comes out of the machine shaggy, with large dimples and few holes, it means it is too wet. Dip the dough into the dough and fold it into thirds again. Continue rolling and turning until dough is silky smooth, dipping in flour with each pass if you continue to see shaggy holes.
Now that the dough is fully kneaded, you’ll need to run it through the pasta machine a few more times. Each time you roll the dough through the machine, you’ll be rolling the rollers together until you get the thinness you need (your recipe should specify that).
At this point, the rolled pieces of dough are perfect for any hand-cut pasta like lasagna or pappardelle. Cut the pasta as it rolls and place it on a tray lined with cornmeal or rice flour. For ravioli, it’s important that you work quickly so the pasta will stick on its own when stuffed and crimped. Cook the pasta that day or freeze it by sprinkling more cornmeal or rice flour in a zip-top bag.
Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta, and therefore, you’ll want to use a pasta pot with a strainer insert (called a pantola) if you have one. A pantola will allow you to take the pasta out of the boiling water quickly, leaving all the cornmeal or rice flour at the bottom of the pot.
Creamy pumpkin and flour come together in a food processor to make Pumpkin Pasta. Sage butter is a perfect simple sauce to serve with it.
Billows of fresh pasta don’t need to be overcooked, just butter and freshly grated Parmesan.
This dough comes together in a food processor. You’ll fill pasta sheets with a mixture of ricotta, Gruyere, leeks, and bacon, then cut the ravioli with a pizza wheel (fantastic).
Here, a refreshing pasta recipe that instructs you to roll out semolina durum dough-based rolls with a rolling pin, no pasta maker required.
After making ravioli, you fry it by breading it. Why is fried ravioli called toasted ravioli? You have to ask someone from St. Louis. Either way, they are addictive.
Six cups of baby spinach gives this homemade pasta its bright green color and refreshing flavor. When feeding your handmade dough through your pasta maker, make sure it is thin but not translucent.
These lovely bowtie pastas are easier to make than you might initially think. When creating their signature shape, it’s essential to continue dusting your pasta pieces with flour if they become sticky.
This homemade pappardelle makes the perfect base for a variety of savory sauces like Creamy Mushroom, Saffron Cream, Ragu and Classic Bolognese.
A mouthwatering blend of ricotta, Parmesan, and pecorino cheeses make up the filling for these envelope-shaped stuffed pasta.