Make It At Home: Fresh Pasta Edition

Categories: Cooking!
Dave Lieberman
There's nothing like going to an Italian restaurant and sitting down to a plate of pasta, and there are certainly few more serendipitous moments than when the pasta arrives and it's tender, obviously house-made pasta simmered in sauce or simply tossed with oil and herbs.

There's a lot of propaganda out there about wizened old nonne practicing the craft of pasta-making with hands bent by decades of rolling gemelli and folding tortellini, and a lot of frightening warnings in cookbooks about how pasta rolling can only truly be done by professionals.

Che stronzata. LIES!

Of course old Zia Georgina makes great pasta after years of practice, but that doesn't mean that you have to embark on a commitment of 50 years' practice to get to where you want to be. After all, Auntie had to get her start somewhere, and I doubt there's some Magic Pasta Fairy that comes along and grants people the ability to make pasta.

Will you fail at first? Maybe. I certainly did when I started making pasta ten years ago... but what the "oh, look at this old Tuscan woman" type cookbooks don't tell you is that some failures are salvageable, even if they're not going to win any awards anytime soon for texture. Below is a good starter recipe for an almost-all-purpose egg pasta dough. You can make it into tagliatelle, you can use it for ravioli, you can use it for lasagne. There are different recipes for these doughs, and you won't be fooling any real Italians, but this one is a good starting point for learning to work with the dough.

One thing you should get is equipment. I'm not a big fan of equipment for its own sake, but I have to say the pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid is a lifesaver. The roller itself can also be used, if you're careful, to make home batches of laminated dough (like for croissants), and the cutter attachments make it much easier to turn out of a batch of dough. If you don't have a KitchenAid, there are tabletop, hand-cranked cutters that do the exact same thing.

You CAN roll your pasta by hand with a wooden pin, and it will come out with a preternatural affinity for whatever sauce you put on it, but it will take a long time, and if you're cutting ribbons (like tagliatelle) you will get frustrated quickly when trying to make nice even knife or pizza cutter cuts.

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