If you have some extra time to spend cooking, home-made pasta is definitely the perfect project to take on. We have three simple pasta dough recipes for you to start with. Whether you have a pasta roller or not, in this article we will also show you how to create pasta shapes at home! Not only a fun activity for the whole family, but we are also sure you will be in love with the home-made pasta taste and texture! And once you have your fresh home-made pasta, the possibilities are endless!
Everything I know about pasta making, I learned from my Italian friend Giovanni in my second year at university. It was surprising to see a pasta roller on a university campus, to say the least, but the passion for cooking was strong enough to pack a very heavy machine and travel with it across Europe. Giovanni later confessed that he thought pasta-making would be somewhat a conversation piece that would help him make friends in the UK (boy, did it work! I seem to remember girls queueing up to taste the pasta and see the Italian chef himself in action!). That, however, was over 10 years ago now…
A few years back, my parents-in-law gave us a Marcato Atlas pasta roller. After staying in the kitchen cupboard unused for a couple of months, we decided it would be a great weekend activity for us. To be completely honest, I didn’t expect the home-made pasta to be that much better. What is more, I thought it would be a nightmare to make. Having seen many professional chefs struggle on Masterchef to roll the pasta out, it sticking to the work surface and then ravioli bursting and the filling leaking out, I had VERY low expectations!
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What can I tell you? It’s 5 years later and our stuffed pastas (ravioli, tortellini, agnolotti) are still exclusively made at home. Yes, we do still buy dried penne and spaghetti for quick weekday dinners, but if it’s pasta for a weekend meal, there is no excuse! It has to be home-made.
Home-made pasta, believe it or not, is not hard to make. It takes some time, of course, but the work involved is so therapeutic and relaxing that it almost feels meditative! What is more, both the texture and the flavour of the home-made pasta stand heads and shoulders above shop-bought dried pasta. It makes a perfect activity for couples and families with kids too!
Helpful Equipment for Home-Made Pasta:
Below, we will show you how we create a range of pasta shapes at home. Some of them you can make with things that you’ll find in the kitchen, like a thin metal skewer or a fork. Other shapes will require the pasta dough to be rolled out thinly first.
If you’re interested in making home-made pasta regularly, or simply like to have all the equipment needed handy for when you feel inspired, here’s a list of everything ‘home-made-pasta-related’, that we use (links to the products in blue):
Kenwood Food Processor (optional): food processors can be used to make the dough. It helps distribute the water or eggs in the flour by pulsing the blades. However, I feel it’s easy enough to do it with your hands. What food processor is extremely useful for, though, is making fillings for your stuffed pasta and a variety of pasta sauces.
Marcato Atlas Pasta Roller (not required for all pasta shapes, but extremely useful): as you will see below, you can make pasta without having to roll it first. There are many shapes you can hand-make, like Cavatelli, Malloreddus, Fusilli and Trofie. However, having a pasta roller opens up so many more shapes and recipes: think tagliatelle, lasagne sheets and ravioli, to name a few.
Butter Paddles/ Gnocchi Boards (replace with the back of the fork, if you don’t have one): A fun tool to use to make Malloreddus or Gnocchi. The boards make your pasta look very pretty and the texture helps capture more sauce!
Dual Cutter (or a very sharp knife): a cutter we use has two blades, one for a straight edge, and another one for fluted. We use it for rolled pasta shapes, like cutting rectangles for farfalle, shaping ravioli or making fluted pappardelle.
Below, you will find three simple recipes for pasta dough.Jump to Recipe
Whichever one you choose to cook with, it is important that you use the right ingredients to guarantee success!
Traditional Egg Pasta Dough (Pasta all’uovo):
- Flour: we tend to use 00 flour for our pasta dough, although you can make it with semolina flour as well. Whilst you can use plain or strong bread flour for pasta, for me, the pasta turns out a bit too stodgy and even chewy.
- Eggs: Since all the moisture in the dough comes from the eggs in this dough it is difficult to state the exact amount. I add a medium-sized egg per 100g of flour. If the dough is too dry, simply add a tbsp of water. If it’s too sticky, add a sprinkling of flour.
Semolina Pasta Dough (Pasta bianca):
- Semolina: if you’re making pasta bianca, you will need very fine semolina. It is normally called semolina flour. Here’s the link to the one we tried and liked.
- Water: Use warm water, it helps with the kneading process, as the dough feels more pliable without being too sticky.
Egg Yolk Pasta (Pasta al tuorlo d’uovo):
Pasta dough can also be made with flour and egg yolks only. This type of pasta is rich in flavour, bright yellow in colour and provides silky-smooth pasta. However, it is harder to knead and becomes quite delicate when boiling. We use 00 flour for the egg yolk pasta. You will also 3-4 medium egg yolks for every 100g of flour that you use (so about 8 yolks to feed 2-3 people. If you have some spare egg yolks though, give it a go!
Which Home-Made Pasta Dough is Best?
Traditional egg pasta dough is a great base for both the filled, rolled and hand-shaped pasta. The dough is made with both the egg white and the yolk that ensure good binding, strong dough that doesn’t tear easily but is also rich in flavour and soft in texture. Although the dough is very versatile, we love using this dough for filled pastas (like ravioli and tortellini) and other shapes that need rolling, like tagliatelle, spaghetti, farfalle and penne.
Egg yolk pasta dough is perfect for long shapes that aren’t intricate or need to hold shape. It’s the richest tasting pasta made with egg yolks, so it is best suited served with a simple tomato sauce or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Semolina pasta dough is made with just water for hydration. It is lower in protein (since there’s no egg). However, semolina flour is higher in gluten than 00 flour. Pasta made with this dough will have a different texture that lends itself better to hand-shaped pasta shapes like Cavatelli, Foglie D’Olivo and Fussili.
How to Flavour and Colour your Pasta Dough?
Green: Baby spinach pulp. Simply place 150g of baby spinach in a colander. Pour a full kettle of boiling water over the spinach and then leave to cool enough to handle. Squeeze as much of the moisture out as possible and place it in a food processor. Blend it into the smooth green mixture. Beat the two eggs with the spinach mixture. Use about 250g of flour to make up for the extra moisture from spinach, but you may need to adjust the amounts slightly whilst you knead. Add a tbsp of water if your pasta dough is too dry. If it’s too sticky, add some more flour.
Yellow/ Orange: Turmeric. Simply add 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric per 200g flour and make the pasta dough as usual. This will create a nice pastel yellow coloured pasta.
Black: squid (cuttlefish) ink. First, add 4g of squid ink to your eggs or water and beat to combine (don’t worry if it doesn’t blend in well, it will all combine in the kneading process). We use and love Nortindal Ink. It comes in handy 4g sachets, so they are not messy to use and store! Link to squid ink, here. Then make your pasta as normal (plus account for some extra time to wash your hands…don’t worry it doesn’t stain your skin).
Pasta Shapes Easy To Create at Home:
If you don’t have a pasta roller:
The video below shows how we make a simple semolina pasta dough and then use it for five different pasta shapes. None of them requires a pasta roller and most can be made using things you have at home. Or simply your hands!
- Cavatelli: Cavatelli means ‘little hollows’ in Italian. Perfect little pasta shape that can be made with nothing else but your hands. The grove in the middle is great for picking up the sauce.
- Malloreddus: Also known as Sardinian Gnocchi. Similar to Cavatelli, Malloreddus have ridges on the outside that also help capture as much sauce as possible (always a winner!). You will ideally need a gnocchi board to create these, but you can get away by rolling them off the back of a large fork to create ridges.
- Fusilli al Ferretto: Spiral shaped pasta, that can be made at home with the help of a metal skewer or any other thin metal rod. Takes a bit of practice (see video above), but once you’ve mastered the technique you will have a lovely bowlful of home-made Fusilli al Faretto in minutes!
- Trofie: twisted pasta from Liguria, trofie get their name from Ligurian verb ‘to rub’ referring to the shaping motion required to make them.
- Foglie D’Olivo: literally meaning ‘olive leaf’ in Italian, these are extremely easy to create with only a butter knife. Try making them with green (spinach) coloured pasta dough. A plate full of little olive leaves looks fantastic!
If you have a pasta roller:
If you do have a pasta rolling machine and would like to use it, there are plenty more shapes you can create with your pasta dough. The video below shows how we make a simple egg pasta dough (Pasta all’uovo) and use it to make six pasta shapes.
- Lasagne Sheet: All rolled pasta starts as a lasagne sheet. Simply roll your pasta dough, trim the edges to create a rectangle and you have a fresh home-made lasagne sheet.
- Linguine: similar to spaghetti, but flat rather than round, and about 4mm in width. The name ‘linguine’ means little tongues in Italian.
- Tagliatelle: a long and flat ribbon-shaped pasta, that originally comes from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions. Traditionally made with egg dough, tagliatelle is cut in 6-9mm wide ribbons.
- Pappardelle: a wide (9mm-2.5cm) ribbon pasta, that can have either a straight or a fluted edge. Pappardelle is traditionally served with rich tomato or meaty ragu sauces.
- Farfalle & Strichetti: Farfalle is butterfly-shaped pasta and has fluted edges. On the other hand, Stritchetti is a regional pasta native to Modena and have straight cut edges and look like bow-ties. Very simple to make, yet extremely impressive looking pasta
- You can also make ravioli, tortellini, agnolotti and a range of other stuffed pastas if you have a pasta machine. An article about stuffed pastas specifically is here.
In summary, we believe everyone should try making their own pasta! Overall, not only is pasta a fun activity, but it tastes a lot better than dried pasta bought from the shop! Not forgetting the sense of achievement of creating something from scratch!
Three Different Pasta Doughs: Semolina, Egg and Egg Yolk
Semolina Pasta Dough (Pasta Bianca):
- 200 g fine semolina flour
- 120 ml warm water
Egg Eggs (Pasta all’uovo):
- 200 g 00 flour
- 2 large eggs
Egg Yolk Pasta (Pasta al tuorlo d’uovo):
- 200 g 00 flour
- 7-8 medium egg yolks
- Tip your semolina or 00 flour on a work surface. Create a well. If you're using water, add it little by little and mix pinching the sides in, creating a paste-like consistency. If you're adding eggs, crack the eggs/ egg yolks in the well and pinch with your fingertips to start combining (see videos below).
- Carry on until the pasta dough completely absorbs the moisture and the dough comes together.
- Start kneading the dough by pressing your palm toward forwards on the dough, then fold the dough back and repeat the motion. Keep kneading for 10 minutes, until the dough looks smooth and shiny.
- If your dough feels too dry and doesn't come together, add a tbsp of water at a time, and keep kneading. If it feels too sticky, add a sprinkling of semolina/ 00 flour.
- Wrap a dough ball in cling film to prevent drying out and leave to rest for 30-60 minutes.
- Rested dough is ready to be used! Videos below show how to create various pasta shapes with or without a pasta machine.