Homemade Pasta (Without A Pasta Maker)
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Did you know it’s possible to make homemade pasta without a pasta maker? Because it is, and it’s actually a lot easier than you might think!
I’ve wanted to learn how to make homemade pasta from scratch for quite some time now. The thing is, when pasta’s as cheap and plentiful as it usually is at the grocery store, it’s hard to justify making it from scratch.
But now that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and the pasta section of our local grocery store is pretty much completely bare, I figure that’s a clear enough sign that it’s time to start making my own fresh pasta at home.
Like most staple recipes that require some combination of eggs, flour and water, homemade pasta isn’t difficult to make by any stretch. In fact, as far as dough goes, it’s one of the easiest and most forgiving doughs I’ve worked with.
The problem is, I don’t have a pasta maker, so I put off even trying to make my own pasta at home for fear of it being too complicated without one.
While I do admit it would probably be easier with a pasta maker, it wasn’t exactly difficult to do it all by hand. Using a pasta maker just helps roll the dough out really thin and cuts it really straight and evenly.
Still, rolling and cutting it out by hand was more time-consuming than difficult, and it’s hard to get the dough as thin as you could with a machine.
But for anyone searching for pasta right now and unable to find it, or really for anyone who just wants to try making fresh pasta at home but doesn’t own a pasta maker, this way is really easy to do with just a rolling pin and a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.
*** Update ***
Since I wrote this post a year ago, we have since been gifted a pasta maker attachment for our KitchenAid stand mixer, and I have to admit, I MUCH prefer using the pasta maker to make my dough.
While rolling pasta dough out by hand is simple enough and works in a pinch (and let’s be honest, it just feels authentic when you’re rolling out the dough with a rolling pin like an Italian nonna;), it’s still WAY quicker and easier to use a pasta maker, and the pasta gets rolled and cut much thinner than if making it by hand, which I tend to prefer.
If you don’t have an expensive countertop stand mixer but you still want authentic handmade pasta at home without all the effort you can always use a countertop style pasta roller instead. There are many affordable options available on the market but in no way are they all the same. If you’re looking for a quality pasta roller (without breaking the bank), I would recommend this one.
While you CAN roll your dough out by hand, if you intend to make homemade pasta on any sort of regular basis, I highly recommend investing in a pasta maker. And trust me, when you start making your own pasta at home, you’ll definitely want to make it on a regular basis! Just like with anything else, be it homemade bread or homegrown tomatoes, it’s hard to go back to store-bought pasta after you’ve had the homemade version!
Either way, this recipe works whether you’re using a pasta maker or rolling the dough out by hand. If using a pasta maker, follow the same recipe and instructions below, but after rolling it out with a rolling pin, feed it through your pasta maker to get the dough thinner. Start with the roller on the thickest setting and then adjust the dial and feed your dough through again and again, each time on a thinner setting until the thickness of your pasta is to your liking.
How to make homemade pasta without a pasta maker
Obviously you have to start by making your pasta dough. Pasta noodles are egg noodles, so you’ll need 6 eggs, as well as 4 to 4½ cups of all-purpose flour. (Pasta is traditionally made with semolina flour, but when making your own, all-purpose is fine).
Either in a mixing bowl, on a large plate or directly on your countertop, take 4 cups of flour and make a well in the middle.
Crack one or two of the eggs into the well and gently start scooping the flour into the middle, mixing it with the eggs, careful not to break the well if doing this directly on your counter.
* This is the old-school Italian grandma technique, but if you want to make sure to avoid an eggy, floury mess on your counter, just use a mixing bowl. You can also use a stand mixer. I’ve tried both and I find both methods work just as well, but the stand mixer does all the kneading for you. Then again, I feel like making pasta just wouldn’t be the same without kneading it like a nonna;)
Add the remaining eggs into the well one at a time, mixing with the flour until it starts to form a dough. Continue until all the eggs have been added and the mixture has formed a shaggy dough ball.
Lightly flour your countertop and your hands, and transfer the dough ball to your countertop. Knead for a couple minutes, until the dough really starts to come together.
Form a little well with two fingers in the middle of the dough and add one tablespoon of water. Gently work the water into the dough by folding it in and continuing to knead.
As you knead, add the remaining two tablespoons of water if you find you need them to get the dough to stick and start to smooth out. If the dough is sticking fine, it’s not actually necessary to add any water. But it helps to get a nice, smooth dough when you’re making it by hand.
Add more flour to your hands and to the countertop as needed to avoid the dough sticking. If the dough is really sticky, you can add up to another ½ cup of flour, but do so slowly, one tablespoon at a time. You really want to keep that egg to flour ratio up so don’t add too much flour if you don’t need to.
Continue kneading dough for another 10 minutes or so until dough is smooth and elastic but not sticking to your hands or the counter.
Wrap in plastic wrap or a plastic bag (which you can reuse) and set aside to rest for half an hour.
Rolling & cutting your pasta dough by hand
Rolling out your dough is the hardest part when making fresh pasta by hand because it’s hard to get the pasta as thin with just a rolling pin. But you can still get it thin enough for a delicious bowl of homemade pasta, and if you don’t have a pasta maker, a rolling pin works in a pinch.
Lightly flour your surface again and cut your dough into four equal parts. Roll each part out one at a time. Roll into a long rectangle until you get it as thin as you can with your rolling pin. We’re going for like, as close to 1/8 of an inch thickness as possible.
Once you’ve rolled out your dough, cut off the outer edges with a knife or a pizza cutter so you’ve got a perfect rectangle, or leave them on for a more rustic look. You can roll the cut edges into one of the other pieces of dough to reuse the extra.
Slice your dough into pasta noodles about the width of fettuccini or thinner. Use either a pizza cutter or a kitchen knife. Or there’s also this cool rolling pin pasta cutter that I haven’t personally tried but looks pretty rad 🙂
Separate your pasta and hang to dry on a pasta dryer or you can make your own like we did!
Alternatively, you can hang homemade pasta noodles on your oven handle, but you will need to let it dry in batches.
Let pasta hang to dry for about 15 to 20 minutes before cooking or storing. It’s important to let fresh pasta dry for a little bit even before cooking to prevent noodles from sticking together.
To cook, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add fresh pasta. Cook time will vary depending on how thick your noodles are. We’ve found it can take anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes depending on how thick and how dry your noodles are, and whether you prefer your pasta al dente or a little softer. Check one of the noodles for doneness before straining the water out.
After you strain the water out, drizzle just a little bit of olive oil over the hot noodles and toss to coat to prevent them from sticking. Top with your favourite sauce or with a little more olive oil and parmesan cheese, or however you prefer to eat your pasta!
How to store homemade pasta
If you’d prefer to make your pasta ahead of time and store it for later, you can either keep pasta bent in half after hanging it to dry or bend pasta into little nests by gently twirling noodles around your fingers and place in a Ziplock bag in the fridge for later (homemade fresh pasta will store in the fridge for about 2 to 3 days). Or you can place them in the freezer and freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Alternatively, you can dehydrate pasta and store in your pantry just like dried store-bought pasta. To dehydrate you pasta, dry in a dehydrator at 135ºF for about 3 or 4 hours, until pasta is dry and brittle enough that it snaps in two easily.
You can also air dry homemade pasta, but you’ll need to dry it for longer. Make sure that your pasta noodles are completely dry and snap in half easily before storing them in a plastic bag or a container in your pantry.
CAUTION: Dried homemade pasta is shelf stable when completely dry, but any moisture leftover could cause harmful bacteria to form and make your pasta unsafe to eat. So make sure it’s really dry!
You can cook dried homemade pasta the same way as you cook dried store-bought pasta. Refrigerated pasta and frozen pasta should be cooked for roughly the same amount of time as fresh pasta, maybe 30 seconds to one minute longer. But again, always test one noodle to make sure you’re happy with the doneness before straining noodles, just in case you need to cook them for little bit longer.
And that’s all folks! Homemade pasta without a pasta maker: It’s that easy.
So the next time you go to buy pasta and find the grocery store shelves bare or you just want a fun and impressive but easy to execute new kitchen project, try your hand at this making this super simple homemade pasta recipe. Then get yourself a pasta maker and you might never go back to buying pasta from the store again!
(At least, that’s my plan anyway 😉
Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂