BASIC EGG PASTA DOUGH
When I learned how easy it was to make fresh pasta dough, I couldn’t believe it. Just mix together some flour and eggs, and knead for a bit? Yeah, I think I can handle that.
So, what can you do with this? Many, many things. Roll it out to make ravioli or lasagna. Tear off little blobs and smush your thumb into them to make orecchiette. Mix it with potato to make gnocchi. Run it through a pasta crank to make spaghetti. The list goes on! I’ve even entertained the idea of rolling out the dough, slicing it into thin strips, rounding them out, and wrapping them around a skewer to make fusilli. (I’ll save that project for when I start to get the dead-of-winter crazies).
A few notes about fresh pasta dough:
— If you’re rolling out pasta dough by hand, you will find that the dough becomes difficult to work with after a couple minutes. Whenever you are kneading, rolling out, or working dough in any way, you are aggravating the glutens in the flour, causing them to form and strengthen. This is why the dough becomes increasingly elastic. To fix this, simply cover it with a damp tea towel and leave it alone for a few minutes. The glutens will relax, and the dough will be easy to work with once again.
— If you’re using a pasta crank, you will want to divide your dough into four pieces. Cover three with a damp tea towel. Set your crank to the widest setting (usually 1). Run your first piece through. Fold it into thirds (like a business letter) and run it through on the same setting again. Repeat until you have a smooth dough (around 7–10 times). Set the crank to the next thinnest setting and run dough through once. Continue until you’ve reached the desired thickness for your pasta. (Don’t try to skip settings. You’ll just wind up with a dough pile-up in your machine.)
— Fresh pasta cooks much quicker than the regular ol’ dried versions. Keep an eye on it. A few minutes in boiling water is all you need.
Basic Egg Pasta Dough
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
olive oil if/as needed
Sift flour into a large bowl or onto a pastry board and make a well in the center. Crack eggs into the well. Using a fork, beat eggs and begin to pull flour into liquid.
Once you can no longer mix with a fork, knead dough on a well-floured surface until smooth and elastic (8–10 minutes). (If dough feels a bit dry, add a little bit of olive oil when kneading.) Cover dough with a wet tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. If you won’t be using it right away, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate. I’ve read that you can keep fresh pasta dough in the fridge for 2 days, but I don’t recommend more than 24 hours, as the dough will start to turn a weird greyish-brown color. If you won’t be using it within one day, just toss it in the freezer.