I have been meaning to make fresh pasta for a while – especially since we have a pasta machine stored away in a closet, but have never gotten around to it. While Jed was away this weekend, I decided to try out a recipe on myself.
A few weeks ago I had armed myself with a big bag of semolina flour, so I was ready to go. A little side savings tip: Specialty flours like semolina and Tipo “00” are available in many grocery stores, but can be pretty pricey. For a price cut, try an Italian provisions shop who buys those flours in bulk/wholesale then divides them into smaller (like 5lb and 1lb) bags, passing on considerable savings to the customer. Alternatively, if you know of a bakery, pizza shop, or maybe even a local restaurant that uses the flour you are looking, stop in and ask if they will sell you a few pounds. This will most likely be cheaper as well (unless they are immoral jerks) since they buy wholesale/bulk as well.
Making the pasta by hand (with a rolling-pin) seemed more reasonable than getting the shiny new machine dirty for a half pound of pasta, so I skipped the machine this time. When researching the dough, I came across some people commenting that 100% semolina dough was difficult to handle. I did not have any issues with this at all, but I did let the dough chill for an hour or two which may have helped.
Fresh pasta is really simple to make and absolutely rewarding, as the flavor and texture rocks. Do make sure you knead the pasta long enough and have plenty of extra flour on hand when kneading and rolling. Lastly, if you are using a rolling-pin, take the time to roll the dough as thinly as possible.
Please ignore my really bad photography job this time, I was using my camera phone.
Semolina Pasta Dough
Makes: 1/2 pound
- 1 cup semolina flour + more for dusting
- 2 eggs
- dash olive oil
- pinch of sea salt
On a board/counter or in a large bowl, place the 1 cup of flour and make a well in the center.
Crack the eggs into the well and add the salt and olive oil. Beat the eggs lightly with a fork, or break the yolks with your fingers.
Slowly begin mixing in the flour from the edge of the well working outwards. The key is to not “break” the well too early on, or all of your egg will run all out over the counter.
As the dough begins to take shape, you can work much more aggressively to form a ball.
Knead the dough, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, for 10 minutes or until it feels smooth and a bit shiny – I hate to say this, but almost like playdough.
Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but I would recommend an hour or longer.
When you are ready to finish the pasta, remove the ball from the fridge and divide in half (or thirds, or fourths if you prefer). Place half on a well floured surface and wrap the remaining dough in the plastic wrap and set aside or return to the fridge.
Roll out the dough as thin as possible – less than an 1/8″ (if you can roll it thinner than I did, you should do it) – adding flour to keep it from sticking to the surface or rolling-pin.
From this point on, you can cut it into any shape you like with a knife, pizza wheel, or pastry cutter. I made a “rustic” noodle shape that is somewhat a cross between fettucine and tagliatelle.
Dust the cut pasta with extra flour. Separate and “fluff” the pieces and place into a pile. You can cook them immediately, freeze them, or dry them like a bird’s nest (or flat on a towel, or hanging over a drying rack/hanger).
Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Cook in salted boiling water for 1-3 minutes depending on the shape and thickness of your pasta. Taste test for ideal doneness and toss with your favorite sauce.