I have seen pasta made on Food Network at least a couple dozen times. They made it look easy. So why in my many decades of being earth-bound had I never tried my hand at homemade pasta? Because it is not easier than pre-made pasta. But that all changed a couple of Sundays ago when like a robot, my body decided it was going to make homemade pasta, and my mind had no other choice but to agree.
This article is after making homemade pasta twice; the first time I made ravioli, the second time it was fettuccine. By no means am I an expert, but if I can make pasta that people enjoyed, then you can, too. You will need a KitchenAid and the pasta maker attachments (roller and cutter) to follow along as I have, but there are plenty of pasta makers out there. Roma’s has several different options from ravioli, capellini, spaghetti— and more. You can even flatten and cut it by hand. The beauty of homemade pasta is that it’s imperfect— and that’s what makes it perfect.
First, I cleaned off my countertop and made a well using about 2 cups of flour. This turned out to be a huge mess. I recommend doing this on a large sheet pan that way the mess is contained. Then I added salt and mixed it into the flour and remade my well. The second time, I seasoned the flour with salt and garlic and onion powder and combined my dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl before pouring it onto the surface to make the well. Make your well with the intention of it being able to hold 5-6 eggs. I used 5. Then, I topped it off with about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Here’s where quality ingredients count. If you can, use farm fresh eggs and “good” EVOO, both can be found at Roma’s.
Using a fork, I broke my yokes. Then you slowly and evenly combine flour with your eggs with the fork. Don’t get your hands dirty prematurely. I was eager to make the pasta with my hands, and I jumped in when the dough was too sticky, and I wasted a lot on my fingers. Keep combining your flour until your dough is workable. If your dough is dry, add more olive oil or another egg. You will need lots of flour! Form a ball about the size of a grapefruit and let it sit on a plate with a damp paper towel over it for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
For beginners, I recommend dividing your dough into eighths so that it doesn’t dry out before you roll and cut it. Take each eighth, and flatten it with your palm so that one side is flat enough to be put through your KitchenAid roller. Start on 0, then adjust your levels of “flatness” by feel. I was working a combination of 0, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8— but as I said, it’s all about the feel. For ravioli, you’ll want a thin pasta sheet, but for fettuccine, you can play with the density; in fact, for the fettuccine, I never raised it above 7. Be sure to use flour to coat the sheets so that it doesn’t stick to itself.
Due to limited counter space, I cut the pasta every 3 sheets. You’ll just have to change out the attachment, and there are no settings to play around with. Have flour handy to toss your cut pasta in. I did this process three more times. Every now and then tossing the pasta clumps with flour. If the dough gets too hot or sits too long, it will start gelling together, so be mindful of the surrounding temperature (i.e. don’t place your pasta near a hot oven).
Using a large pot, bring salted water with (about a tablespoon) olive oil to a boil. Reduce heat and add pasta, but do not overcrowd the pot. You’re going to want to cook your pasta in batches; I don’t recommend adding more than 3 eighths at a time. Stir with a wooden spoon to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pot. The pasta cooks quickly, it only takes about 5-6 minutes. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking of the pasta and to prevent the pasta from sticking to itself. Once excess water is removed, toss in a drizzle of olive oil.
Finish your pasta the sauce of your choosing!