Follow our four-step guide to making fresh pasta sheets which you can use to dish up classic Italian favourites.
Making your own pasta is up there with making your own bread. Once you have made your very own batch, you won’t want to go back to store-bought pasta.
To make your own pasta at home, you’ll need the following equipment:
a pasta machine for rolling out the pasta dough into sheets, and for making fettuccine (or cut by hand)
a fork for whisking the eggs
a rolling pin
clean tea towels to cover the fresh pasta while it’s drying
plastic wrap to cover the fresh pasta while it’s resting
a ravioli wheel for making farfalle and ravioli
A homemade pasta recipe in 4 simple steps
Place 400g Italian “00” flour or plain flour in a mound on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Crack 4 eggs into the centre of the well. Use a fork to gently whisk the eggs while using your other hand to secure the outer walls of the flour. Continue whisking, gradually drawing in the flour as you go until the dough becomes thick.
Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead the dough for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (To check if the dough is ready, press it with the tip of your finger. If it springs back, it means it has reached the desired texture.) Shape the dough into a disc and coat lightly with flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough. Set the pasta machine on the widest setting and coat the pasta rollers lightly in flour. Feed 1 portion of dough through the machine. Repeat 6 more times, folding the pasta into thirds and then turning it 90 degrees to the pasta machine before you feed the pasta dough through each time.
When the dough is the same width as the machine, stop folding it into thirds. Continue to feed the dough through the machine, gradually narrowing the pasta machine settings, 1 notch at a time, before you feed the pasta dough through each time. Repeat until you reach the second last setting on the machine. Repeat with the remaining 3 dough portions.
Variations on pasta recipes
How to make farfalle
Use a ravioli wheel to cut 1 pasta sheet crossways into 4cm-wide strips. Use a sharp knife to cut the strips crossways, at 4cm intervals, to make 4cm squares. Brush the centre of each square with a little water. Use your fingers to pinch the straight edges of the squares together to form bows. Place on a floured tea towel and set aside for 2 hours to dry. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets.
How to make lasagne sheets
Use a sharp knife to cut the pasta sheets into 8 x 14cm rectangles (or to the size stated in the recipe). Lightly flour both sides of each lasagne sheet. Place the pastry sheets on a clean tea towel. Cover with another clean tea towel and set aside for 1 hour to dry slightly. Drying the lasagne sheets makes it easier to handle the fresh pasta before cooking and prevents it from stretching and breaking.
How to make fettuccine
Cut 1 pasta sheet in half crossways. Set the pasta machine to the fettuccine setting and feed the pasta sheet through. Lightly coat the fettuccine with flour to stop it sticking together. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets. To cut fettuccine by hand, roll up the pasta sheet lengthways to form a log. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 1cm-thick slices. Unroll the fettuccine and lightly coat in flour.
How to make ravioli
Place 1 pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface. Place heaped teaspoonfuls of filling, in 2 rows, at 5cm intervals on the pastry sheet, leaving a 2cm border around the edges. Use a pastry brush to brush the pasta sheet around the filling with water. Top with a second pasta sheet and press the edges together to seal. Use a ravioli wheel or knife to cut between the filling to make squares. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets and filling.
HOW TO COLOR HOMEMADE PASTA DOUGH
Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Next, puree 3/4 cup frozen cooked leaf spinach (squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible) in a food processor. Add it to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough method.
Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste or sun-dried tomato paste to the well in the flour. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.
Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Roast 1 red beet until softened, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel and grate or puree in a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons grated cooked beet to the well in the flour. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.
Pasta Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Soak 1 sachet of powdered saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the water, discarding the solids. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones and whisk with the vibrant saffron water before adding to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.
Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add at least 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh green herbs to the well in the flour.
Squid ink pasta Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add 1 sachet squid ink to the eggs and whisk to combine before adding to the flour. You may need to add a little extra flour to the pasta dough.