Pasta making calls for two basic ingredients: flour and eggs. Despite how easy it seems there are a couple of details that, if not followed precisely, may turn your fabulous homemade pasta into tasteless, miss-shapen dough.
We have compiled an easy-to-follow guide to ensure that whatever dough recipe you use, our hot tips will take your homemade pasta skills to the next level. Once you’ve tasted handmade pasta using our expertise, you probably won’t settle for any other kind.
Step 1: Make The Dough
1. It all starts with placing your flour in a mound on the work surface, making a small well in the middle of it and tipping the cracked eggs into the well.
2. You then need to draw the flour from the outside of the mound into the eggs with your fingers or a fork, slowly mixing as you go, until a dough forms.
Top Tip: You can complete the mixing step with a food processor, but it’s always more fun to do it by hand (and more therapeutic, some people say).
3. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle it with a tablespoon of flour. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water.
Step 2: Knead The Dough
1. After the mixing, comes the kneading, which is essential. Knead the dough by pressing on it with the heel of your hands, pushing it away from you.
2. Fold the dough back over towards you and repeat the process.
Top Tip: Turn the dough a little each time you knead it.
3. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle it with a little flour as you knead. It’s always easier to work with moist dough as opposed to dough that is too wet or too crumbly. When the dough is ready, it should be completely smooth and elastic.
Step 3: Rest The Dough
When you have finished kneading, cover the dough with cling film and set it aside for about 20 minutes. The longer you leave it to rest, the better. This step is very important in the pasta making process.
Top Tip: Giving the dough some time to rest allows the gluten to develop, which is what gives homemade pasta its smooth and elastic texture.
Step 4: Roll Out Your Homemade Pasta
1. After the dough has rested, separate it into small balls.
2. Pick one to start rolling and leave the others aside, still covered with cling film. You can do this with a pasta machine or by hand.
3. If you choose to do it by hand, lightly flour the work surface and place one of the dough balls on the floured area.
Top Tip: By cutting the dough into smaller balls it becomes easier to roll out the pasta really thinly.
4. When using a rolling pin, you’ll be rolling your pasta into a circular shape, rather than the long rectangular shapes you get from a machine, but this is fine, and the finished results are just as good.
5. If using a pasta machine to roll the dough, start with the slot of the machine on its widest setting. After the dough has passed through once, turn the slot down to the next smallest setting and roll again. Keep making the slot smaller each time and repeat the process five or six times, until the pasta is smooth.
Whether hand rolled or machine rolled, the pasta dough should be allowed to dry for approximately 15 minutes after it has been rolled out and before cutting it into strips or shapes. This will make the dough less sticky and easier to cut. If you don’t know your pasta shapes do not fret -we have a handy guide for that too!
Top Tip: Try not to let the dough dry too much, as it may start to crack while being cut.
1. Once you’ve cut the pasta, it will need to dry again. Pasta shapes should be placed on a lightly floured surface and left to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking, to prevent them from sticking together.
2. You can lay cut strips (used for spaghetti or linguine, for example) out on a floured counter or baking tray until dry, although they will dry faster if hung because that allows for better air circulation.
Step 6: Cook Your Homemade Pasta
After 15-30 minutes the fresh pasta can be cooked or can alternatively be kept for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Cooking times will vary according to the kind of pasta you’ve chosen to prepare.
Sauce Ideas For A Delicious Fresh Pasta Meal
Once cooked, the simplest way to serve your pasta is to toss in a little olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan or grated Cheddar cheese. Alternatively, try a tomato and basil sauce. The options for sauces are endless from flavourful Creamy Spinach and Pilchard Pasta to Saucy Chicken Livers with Penne Pasta.
For a delicious quick fix sauce:
• Melt some butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
• Add in some chopped onions and chopped garlic.
• Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
• Add some chives and uncooked king prawns together with a Knorr Chicken Stock Pot and a squeeze of lemon. You can also add a dash of your favourite Roberstons herbs and spices depending on your flavour preference (we recommend Cajun spice, mixed herbs, paprika, or chicken spice as they pair well with prawns).
• Stir through until the stock has melted and the prawns are cooked.
• Using tongs, add some freshly cooked pasta, leaving some of the pasta water to drip into the sauce.
• Shake the pan a few times to toss the pasta through the sauce and serve it with chopped herbs.
For more delectable pasta inspiration, try out these great recipes – there’s one for every day of the week!