Last weekend, my friend Deann and I made fresh pasta, because we both watched Queer Eye season 2 recently, and saw Antoni wax poetic about fresh pasta and thought, well he must have a good reason to get so enthused. We did not have a pasta machine and because we are not from money, we didn’t want to go out and buy a pasta machine. So we made it with a rolling pin, the way I assume Italian grandmothers did it a long, long time ago. It came out pretty good! Here is a picture:
We finished it up with a little garlic oil pan sauce kinda deal, and also a lot of cheese. (I am lactose intolerant, but on some occasions, you just need cheese ,you know?) If you are the sort of person who feels like you want to make fresh pasta, here is how we did it. (Lightly adapted from a recipe I found on Simply Recipes.)
1. Clear off a big flat surface, ideally a beautiful granite or maple countertop, or if you are me, the biggest cutting board you have. Dump 2 ¾ cups of flour on that surface. Form the flour into a sort of heap with a big divot in the middle, like you’re making a big floury basin. This divot will need to hold a lot of wet ingredients. Really make it big; you don’t want it to overflow.
2. In a separate boil, mix together 4 eggs, 1 extra egg yolk, a generous pour of olive oil, and ½ tsp salt. Whisk them together to combine, then dump them in your flour basin. Start to gradually add the flour into the wet ingredients, mixing as you go, until it is too thick to mix with a whisk/fork, and then go in with your (clean!) hands.
3. When all the wet and dry ingredients are combined, it is time to start kneading. You will need to knead for ten minutes. This is a lot; I recommend switching arms halfway through, or else you may end up with one monstrously strong arm and one frail, weak arm, and that might throw off your center of gravity. Knead and knead and knead. Stop, congratulate yourself. You are so strong, so self-sufficient. Look at those suckers posting gym pics on Instagram, lifting weights like suckers. Weights don’t give you pasta after your workout, so your workout is clearly the superior one.
4. Your pasta dough should now be smooth, shiny, and beautiful. If there are stray dry bits on the board, just throw them away like leftover IKEA screws. You can’t work them in at this point and you’ll be just fine without them. Wrap your beautiful shiny dough tightly in plastic wrap, admire it with pride, and put it in the fridge, where it should sit for at least an hour or up to a day.
5. Your dough, having rested for a bit, should be tranquil and relaxed, ready to be rolled out very, very thin. Pull your cutting board back out or re-clear your counter. Lay down a layer of parchment paper. Flour your surface, your hands, your dough, and your rolling pin. Coat all your surroundings and limbs in a thin layer of flour, just to be safe. Pat your dough out into a rectangle, and then fold it like a letter (the same way you might do with croissant dough – if the short side of the rectangle is facing you, fold the top third down and the bottom third up). Roll it out, then do that again. Why do you have to do this? I truly do not know. Something to do with gluten development probably? Maybe? I just know that I did a lot of pasta research and people kept saying to do this, so I did it.
6. Now it’s time to roll your dough out. Keep rolling. You thought you were done? You’re not. Keep rolling. It should end up so thin that you can see your hand through it. If it seems to be springing back and refusing to get any bigger, you may have to rest the dough for 30 minutes to an hour. This is once again, something to do with the gluten strands. My scientific understanding of the process is this: much like all of us, gluten can get pretty tense and sometimes it understandably needs a little time to relax. Go away and watch an episode of something on Netflix and then come back. (I watched Terrace House: Opening New Doors, and I recommend it highly.)
7. Once your dough is thin enough, dust it with another coating of flour and roll the sheet up like a sleeping bag. Now slice thin slices along the roll. You should end up with something resembling fettucine. Stop, catch your breath.
8. Bring water to a boil, and salt it generously. Dump your beautiful handmade noodles in and boil for about 90 seconds. Finish in a pan with the sauce of your choice and take pictures of yourself casually laughing with a bowl of pasta so that you can brag on social media. Later, at work, feel free to snootily announce to all your coworkers that you made fresh pasta this weekend, hahaha no, it’s not hard at all, not for a culinary wunderkind like you. Secretly, in your head, consider buying a pasta maker. It turns out people buy those for a reason.