A guide to making fresh pasta
By hand and with equipment
There are many types of pasta that are only available in dried form. These are usually extruded pasta shapes that are not practical to make fresh and also don't use eggs.
But for a non plus ultra experience there are many types of pasta or pasta bases dishes that are quite simply best when made with fresh pasta. Common examples are
- Long, or ribbon, pasta such as fettuccine, tagliatelle, tagliolini, pappardelle
- Stuffed pasta such as ravioli, tortelli, tortelloni, tortellini and agnolotti
You can make pasta completely by hand or with the help of special equipment. We cover both on this page. Of course, you can make the dough by hand and roll with a machine or vice versa.
Fresh pasta should be made with 00 flour. This is the finest grade, according to Italian measurements, of durum wheat flour, so fine it feels and looks like talcum powder. Do buy an Italian flour, it will be superior any other kind. You can find it at Italian stores and online. The eggs should be from free range
corn-fed chickens to ensure a yellow colour and flavour.
Cheap eggs and poor quality flour give anaemic and unappetising results. Eggs should be large (approx. 63–73 g/ 2–21/2 oz). We keep our own chickens and sometimes their eggs can be small, so a splash of water makes up the difference in size. Some people add a little salt for flavour, some add water for elasticity or economy and some add olive oil to stop the pasta drying quickly. However, we use only eggs and flour.
Making the pasta
You can do this entirely by hand, which is very easy, or using a food processor, which is not that much easier and requires washing up afterwards.
- By hand - using just a normal bowl and a knife. Click here .
- Using a food processor - using a food processor such as a Magimix. Click here .
Rolling the pasta
Unlike making the pasta dough by hand, rolling your pasta by hand requires practice. However, it is a great experience and saves you buying a pasta rolling machine. What you will need, though is a very long rolling pin or 'mattarello'. Using a normal pastry rolling pin means you have to roll more pieces of dough due to the narrow width which means you will take quite a bit longer. You can buy a special 'mattarello' or you can buy a long piece of curtain rail. Just make sure it is flat.
- Using a rolling pin or 'mattarello' - see how it's done and about how long an ideal 'mattarello' should be. Click here .
- Using a pasta rolling machine - click here .
- Recovery from a rolling machine disaster - sometimes we mess up our pasta sheets when rolling with a pasta machine. Click here to see how to recover from that minor catastrophe.
Here are some examples of how to stuff pasta such as tortelli, mezzaluni and ravioli.
- From a hand rolled sheet - there are some really interesting techniques here so watch it even if you are using a machine. Click here.
- From a machine rolled sheet - click here. To see how to avoid the need for any egg wash to help seal the pasta, please be sure to watch the video on how to correctly roll your pasta sheets by only flouring one side of the pasta as you roll it.
Cutting long or ribbon pasta
- 'Long' pasta covers well know forms like tagliatelle, tagliolini, fettuccine and pappardelle. Click here