Ah pasta, the carb-heavy Italian classic. Pasta is a staple dinner item in many households and while store-bought pasta is cheap and passable, there's something very satisfying in making your own fresh pasta. Learning how to make the dough and roll out all types of pasta at home will allow you to not only save money but to make pasta that fits your needs and tastes.

What You Need To Make Pasta Dough

fresh pasta being kneaded with rolling pin

In terms of equipment, you're going to need to crucial items -- a food processor (if you don't have a food processor, certain types of blenders work as well) and a pasta roller. Once you have those two pieces of equipment, the ingredients you'll need are:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 large eggs

How To Make Pasta Dough

  • Put the flour in the food processor.
  • Crack the three eggs on top of the flour (make sure they are spread out and not all cracked into one spot).
  • Add the olive oil and salt.
  • Using the "Pulse" option on your food processor, hold the button for around 30 seconds to mix the flour, eggs and seasonings together. As they become more mixed together, start pulsing the mix in short bursts for another 15-20 seconds. Be careful of overmixing as the dough won't knead well if pulsed for too long.
  • The dough should be slightly sticky so that it forms a ball when you knead it. If it feels a little too dry and looks almost like little pebbles, add some water and pulse the mixture until it's a little moister. If the mix is sticking to the sides of the food processor and won't come off, try adding some flour and pulse until the mix is the right consistency.
  • Remove the dough mix and place on a clean countertop. Knead the dough together until it forms a smooth ball.
  • Dust the dough ball with some flour, then place it in a small mixing bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. If you plan on rolling your pasta the same day as you make the dough, just leave the bowl on the counter and let it rest for at least half an hour before you begin rolling. If you plan on using the dough at a later date, completely wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge, then take it out at least half an hour prior to rolling it. Be sure to roll the dough within three days of making it!

Rolling Out Pasta

There are two major ways to approach rolling out pasta -- hand-rolling and using a pasta roller. How you choose to roll your pasta depends entirely on what pasta you want to make.

Hand-Rolling

hand rolling pasta with flour dust

Hand rolling is a great option for a thicker choice of pasta such as maccheroni (macaroni that's rolled out long and thin like spaghetti rather than elbow-shaped macaroni) and gnocchi. If you choose to roll gnocchi, it's important to remember that you'll need a potato, sweet potato or squash filling, as well as some ricotta to add a creamy texture. This will all need to be added to the dough making process.

When rolling out any pasta, find a large open counter space and dust the old surface with flour. Take the pasta dough and rip off little pieces at a time and roll them out on the flour-dusted surface until they are the desired width, and then use a large knife to cut the dough into whatever length you want.

When you're done rolling out the pasta, take a baking sheet and lay some parchment paper across it. Dust the parchment with some flour and place your pasta noodles on the baking sheet, evenly spread out with none of the noodles touching each other or overlapping. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and you're done!

Pasta Roller

pasta rolling fettuccine

Pasta rollers have a wide variety of options depending on which one you buy. In general, each roller will be able to roll out your dough into very thin sheets, and then you can run those sheets through an attachment that will yield the type of pasta you want. Certain attachments or parts will turn the pasta sheets into spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, or roll them out nice and thin to make homemade ravioli.

  • Set up your pasta roller so that there's lots of counter space to lay out the pasta when you run it through the roller and be sure to dust that counter space with flour. With any pasta roller, you'll want to rip the dough into chunks and flatten them out so they can pass through the roller.
  • As you run it through the roller, make sure you keep the pasta as flat as possible because you'll have to run it through two or three times to get the desired thinness to make spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, and ravioli -- if you don't keep the dough flat, you'll wind up with uneven pasta noodles that are either way too thick to eat comfortably or too thin to even sustain being boiled.
  • Much like with the hand rolling, take a baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper and dust it with flour. As you roll out your desired pasta noodles, lay them very carefully on the baking sheet and dust them with flour so that the noodles don't stick together. Place the tray in the freezer when finished.

You can boil all these kinds of pasta, both hand-rolled and from the pasta roller, straight from frozen -- just bring a pot of water to a boil and then toss in the frozen pasta noodles. You'll know they're all properly cooked when all the noodles rise to the top of the water.

Once you've learned how to hand roll pasta, you can start focusing on making delicious and healthy sauces from scratch. Gone are the days of store-bought pasta and canned sauces -- now you can make fresh and tasty pasta dishes all from the comfort of your own home!

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