Fresh egg pasta is really delicious and is one one my favourite things to make. It’s cheap with only two main ingredients and despite its notorious reputation, it’s actually quite easy to make and you don’t even need a pasta machine! I make it quite often so decided to invest in a machine for about £40, but there are much cheaper versions available for about £20 too.
The majority of dried pasta you can buy is made from 100% durum wheat semolina and is stored at ambient temperatures. Fresh egg pasta is the type you would find in the refrigerated sections of the supermarket. Fresh pasta incorporates fresh eggs with the wheat flour, giving it a richer flavour and firmer ‘al dente’ texture when it’s cooked. Dried pasta is great for convenience, but fresh pasta is perfect for a special occasion and especially when you’ve taken the time to make a lovely sauce. I love fresh pasta with my ultimate bolognese recipe, carbonara, and creamy sauces (recipes coming soon to the recipe page). Homemade ravioli takes a little more time and is a bit fiddly, but it’s so worth the wait. My recipe for roasted butternut squash and walnut ravioli in a sage and garlic butter sauce can be found in the recipe section of my blog!
A basic pasta recipe will essentially produce fresh lasagne sheets. From here you can pretty much make whatever you like depending on whether you have a pasta machine, what attachments you have, and how patient you can be! Tube shapes are difficult, but things like tagliatelle and pappardelle are super easy, delicious and can be made without any attachments.
I use the ‘Imperia’ brand of pasta machine because it’s consistent, robust, easy to use, and has a great range of attachments. However, its just as easy to make a lot of shapes by simply slicing the pasta sheets with a knife. In this case, a simple budget pasta machine or a rolling pin and lots of elbow grease will do the trick!
Here are my top tips for making and handling fresh pasta:
– Use flour regularly to avoid sticking, but use sparingly
– Allow time for the dough to relax before rolling our to prevent it springing back too much
– Try to find fine semolina – it’s great for stopping the pasta sticking together during storage
– Perservere and relax – it sounds stupid, but it’s so easy to get yourself stressed out with it. At school I remember panicking, it all sticking together and the handle falling off every five seconds because I was rushing. Trust me, this step-by-step method is really simple and works every time
Ingredients (for 2 people):
- 200g 00′ grade pasta flour
- 2 large eggs
- sea salt
1. Tip the flour and a pinch of sea salt onto a board (or into a bowl), make a well in the centre, and crack in the eggs.
2. Gradually work the flour into the egg using a fork. Get your hands involved when most of it’s mixed in and work the mixture into a rough ball. The dough should look quite uneven and lumpy at this point.
3. Knead the dough well for 5 minutes until it’s smooth and homogenous – the dough will feel quite firm at first and requires a bit of effort to knead properly. The basic process of kneading dough is to hold the end of the dough down with the fingers of one hand in a claw-like grip, then use the heel (wrist) of the other hand to push the dough away from you, gather it together again, and repeat. Wrap tightly in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30-45 minutes (It may take slightly longer than 5 minutes if you are a slow kneader)
4. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces – each will be rolled out to form a long sheet of pasta
5. If rolling out by hand try to start with rectangular pieces and simply roll out with a rolling pin until very thin (approx 2 mm.) – you should almost be able to see through it. To make into fettuccine/tagliatelle/pappardelle, theres no need to tediously run the knife down to make individual strips of pasta. Simple dust with a little flour to prevent sticking, fold the long sheet in half widthways several times, then make a series of cut along the width of the dough. Unfold the slices to create the long strips of pasta.
6. If using a pasta machine, run a small piece of dough through the runners several times to remove any dust/debris. When the machine is ready, start rolling the dough through on the thickest setting. Roll it through a couple of times. Continue this process, gradually decreasing the width of the runners. The dough may need dusting with a little flour about half way through as it stretches out to prevent it sticking. I like to fold it in half around this point as well because it tends to give it a more even final shape.
7. Continue feeding the dough through the machine, working quickly as you do so. I stop at the second-to-last width setting for tagliatelle and spaghetti, particularly if I’m using an attachment to prevent it breaking in the machine. For ravioli, it needs to be super thin, so go to the thinnest setting.
8. For lasagne or ravioli, simply use the fresh sheets as required. For long ribbon shapes, either cut by hand, or run the dough through a cutting attachment one final time.
9. Repeat for the other 3 pieces of dough, to give 4 sheets of ready to cook, fresh egg pasta.
If cooking immediately, boil for about 3-4 minutes in a large pan of boiling water with plenty of sea salt. Stir occasionally and make sure you taste it before taking it off the heat, it should be soft with a little bite in the middle. TIP: If the pasta is hung to dry out it may take slightly longer to cook.
If storing, the pasta needs to be dried slightly. You can buy drying stands specifically for pasta, but a coat hanger works equally well and saves a bit of money. Hang to dry until it is dry and firm to touch but still a little flexible. At this point, get a baking sheet, line it with greaseproof paper, then dust with flour or semolina if possible. Gently lay the pasta over the sheet, cover tightly with clingfilm and store in the fridge for up to 48 hours.