Here’s a basic egg pasta recipe, adapted from the fine, absorbing tome Pasta Classica, by Julia Della Croce. I have given directions for rolling and cutting using a machine. It is possible to complete the whole process by hand, equipped only with rolling pin and knife. A simple pasta maker, however, is worthwhile investment, greatly reducing the time required for this admittedly labor-intensive process .
4 cup unbleached white flour
5 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Secure your machine to a counter or table top. Choose a surface where you’ll have as much space as possible to toss sheets of dough about.
2. Have a large knife ready, along with a sieve and a damp dish towel. Also, keep a bag of flour on hand to add to the dough if necessary.
3. Next, decide where you’re going to hang the pasta, either to dry it completely before storing, or simply while you’re rolling and cutting the remaining dough. This is where you may need to get creative. I like to use my indoor clothes horse as a drying rack, it works perfectly!
1. Measure the flour and salt onto the work surface, forming a little heap. Make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well and then add the olive oil and salt. Mix the ingredients in the well with the fingers of one hand, very gradually incorporating flour from the sides of the well. Use the other hand to support the outer sides of the flour “wall” where necessary to prevent the egg mixture from running out. Think of it as a sand castle reservoir. As the mixture becomes thicker, it will stop attempting escape and you can begin kneading it more freely with your hands.
2. When you have a ball of dough, scrape the work surface clean of the remaining flour and crusty bits. Remove these to a sieve and then sift the flour back onto the counter. Knead you dough for five to ten minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until it forms a soft but not sticky dough. Cut the ball into four pieces and cover three of these with a damp cloth.
Rolling and Cutting:
1. Set your machine’s rolling wheel on the widest setting. Press the chunk of dough flat with your hand and thread it through the rollers with one hand while cranking the lever with the other. Fold the dough in thirds, like a letter, and roll it through again. Repeat this process several more times, ending with a smooth oblong of dough.
2. Move the rollers to the next setting (slightly slimmer) and pass the dough through. Repeat the process, each time moving to a progressively finer setting. The dough will become thin and long. Stop when you get to the desired width. For the minimalist adornments that sing so sweetly on fresh pasta, I like to roll it as thin as possible.
3. Finally, cut the dough into appropriate lengths (unless you want to be really eye-catching go wild with exuberantly long strands of fettuccini). Pass each section through the cutters, letting the pasta fall across your hand as it emerges. Lay it on your drying rack. Repeat this rolling and cutting process with the remaining balls of dough.
Boiling and eating:
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a good pinch of salt. Plunge your soft pasta into the water and boil for fifteen seconds. Taste; it will probably be ready. Drain it, although not too thoroughly; leave a hint of water in the pot. Then go wild with whatever additions you like. How about a sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper? Some of those new asparagus, a lavish drizzling of olive oil, and a few shaves of of Manchego? Simplicity really shines with this stuff.