Growing up, every Sunday when my grandmother cooked, it was always a feast. One of my favorite dishes (and fondest memories) of my grandmother’s cooking is her fresh pasta. I always think of her when I make my own. As a child, I loved watching her make fresh pasta. She would give me a piece of the dough to play with, and I attempted to imitate her every move.
During my last visit to Brazil, I wanted to make a special meal for my family where I honored my grandmother for all those years cooking for us, especially making fresh pasta without a pasta machine! She is a woman who believes in the value and taste of cooking from scratch and I learned so much from her. So I made fresh pasta for my 92 year old grandmother and my 95 year old grandfather. She came to the kitchen to watch me, and said she was proud and happy to see how much I love to cook.
It was a meal that brought tears to my eyes. My grandparents had full servings (don’t let their age fool you, they both have quite a healthy appetite) and told me it was the best pasta they had ever had; a true show of grand-parently love. Since then, I started making fresh pasta more often because it always reminds me of that day, and I would love to share it with you.
About making pasta
If you think fresh pasta is complicated to make, or that you don’t have the time or cannot be bothered. I challenge you to try it. It is much easier than you think, I promise! It can also be quite fun! Kneading dough is a relaxing process (ok, for me it is) and nevertheless quite a good little arm workout. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment in the kitchen AND guests are always impressed. Once you try it, you’ll continue making it, because there’s no comparison to the taste of fresh pasta! Also, it can be frozen, so you can make a bit of effort upfront (dare I call it “labor of love”) and then have fresh pasta all the time that only cooks in 1-2 minutes (much faster than packaged dried pasta).
The only time required will depend on the amount you want to make. A pasta machine DOES make things easier. But until I bought mine, I was rolling the dough for months without it, and I didn’t find it as hard as I thought it would be. So please, at least give it a try! You will be happy you did, and so will the people you feed :-)
Fresh Egg Pasta
Serves 5-6 people
- 4 eggs
- 2 2/3 cups (400g) of all-purpose flour (or Type 00) + more for kneading
- 1 TBL extra-virgin olive oil
- pinch of salt
Directions (they are detailed, do not be intimidated):
- Sift flour and salt in a large bowl. Beat eggs, water and olive oil and slowly add
to flour and salt, stirring with a fork until it starts forming a dough.
- Transfer dough to floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes; you can knead a little more if you feel energetic and happy you are making fresh pasta! (click here for kneading tips) Shape dough into a ball and cover it with plastic film. Let it rest for 20 minutes.
Rolling the dough by hand (click here for machine instructions):
- Transfer dough to floured surface and knead another 2-5 minutes.
- Using a rolling pin, flatten and open a small piece of the dough, rolling in different directions if you want a larger surface area, or back and forth if you want a long piece (for ravioli).
- Roll it until very thin (to your liking); thin enough so you can see your hands through it but does not break apart when you pull it up. Note: pasta expands a little when cooked, so roll it a bit thinner than you would like to eat).
Shaping and cutting the dough:
- I usually cut the dough as soon as I roll it so it doesn’t dry up. (If using machine, and need to change attachments, you can roll out big pieces and keep them covered with a clean kitchen towel on a floured surface). Sprinkle flour over the dough and carefully fold it into a large loose log (not tight or the dough will stick together).
- Cut the dough across the folds and pull them apart (like strings) and place onto a floured tray. I usually cut pappardelle (thick noodles) about 1-1.5cm (1/2 inch) wide. For tagliatelle or fettucine, you can cut it a little narrower. You can also leave the dough in large pieces to make lasagna or ravioli.
You now have fresh pasta! You can use it right away, leave it in the fridge for a few days (covered with a kitchen towel), or freeze it for 2-3 months (click here for freezing tips).
Cooking fresh pasta:
- Boil water in a large pot. I usually don’t add salt to my fresh pasta water since it has more flavor than dried pasta, and I already added salt to the dough.
- Carefully place the fresh pasta inside the pot (straight from the freezer if using frozen pasta). The pasta is done when it floats to the top (usually 1-2 minutes). Carefully remove it and place it in the pan with the sauce of your choice and it can continue to cook for less than a minute there. There is no need to pour cold water over cooked pasta to “stop” cooking (that just makes the pasta cold and doesn’t allow it to absorb the sauce).
I hope you enjoy this recipe, and if it’s your first time making fresh pasta, let me know how it turned out! I smile every time I make it because I think of my grandmother. I hope this recipe will bring a nice warm smile to you as well.