Basic Homemade Pasta Dough Recipe
Making high-quality fresh pasta dough in the comfort of your kitchen is surprisingly easy. In fact, homemade pasta is so simple you might wonder why you didn't start sooner. The trick is letting the pasta dough rest before rolling it, which allows the eggs and water to hydrate the flour. This activates the gluten—that's the main protein in wheat that creates the stretch and springiness crucial to good pasta, breads, and cakes—and makes a smoother, stronger dough. For golden-colored pasta dough, the more amber the egg yolks you use, the more striking and vibrant the dough will be.
Use this master pasta dough recipe for satisfying Fettuccine with Cheesy Artichoke Sauce or for the showstopper dish that is Ricotta Roll-Ups in Creamy Pumpkin Sauce. Or use this homemade pasta dough recipe to make any other pasta shape you prefer: go for long noodles, like pappardelle, linguine, tagliatelle, or spaghetti; pasta sheets for lasagna, cannelloni, and even ravioli or agnolotti; or short-shaped pasta such as garganelli or farfalle (aka bow-ties).
Note: This method is flexible depending on your equipment. Break out the pasta machine if you've got one, but if not, a rolling pin and some elbow grease will do just fine.
To Roll and Cut with a Pasta Machine
Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces. Place 1 piece on a work surface; rewrap remaining pieces. Flatten dough into a rectangle to fit machine. Starting with widest setting, pass dough through machine 3 times; lightly dust with flour after each pass to prevent sticking. Reduce roller width 1 notch and repeat, dusting with flour as needed. Continue reducing roller width 1 notch at a time, feeding sheet through each setting 2 times, until sheet is slightly thinner than 1/16 inch thick and you can see the outline of your hand through it. (It is unlikely to make it through all settings.) Lightly dust sheet with flour. Transfer to baking sheet and loosely cover. Repeat with remaining dough, overlapping sheets on baking sheet.
For Ricotta Roll-Ups
Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Working with 1 sheet at a time, cut each sheet crosswise into 3 smaller sheets (8 to 9 inches long). Lightly dust with flour. Transfer to baking sheet and cover. Repeat with remaining sheets, stacking as needed on baking sheet. (You should have 12 sheets.)
Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Hook fettuccine cutter attachment to machine. Working with 1 sheet at a time, pass through cutters. Lightly dust with flour and gently toss to separate strands. Trim stringy ends. Transfer to baking sheet, grouping into 2 nests, or loose piles; cover. Repeat with remaining sheets. (You should have 8 nests.)
To Roll and Cut Dough by Hand
Unwrap dough and cut in half. Place 1 piece on a work surface; rewrap remaining piece. Flatten dough into an oval with the heel of your hand. Roll dough with a rolling pin, starting in the center and working outward, turning 90 degrees clockwise every few rolls. Continue until a large, very thin oval sheet forms (about 1/16 inch thick) and you can see the outline of your hand through it.
For Ricotta Roll-Ups
Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. Cut pasta sheet into 5 smaller sheets (about 7 by 5 inches each); discard scraps. Lightly dust with flour. Transfer to baking sheet and cover. Repeat with remaining dough, stacking sheets as needed on baking sheet. (You should have 10 sheets.).
Lightly dust a baking sheet and pasta sheet with flour. Loosely roll pasta sheet into a long, flat log about 2 inches wide. Cut crosswise into ¼-inch slices with a sharp knife. Loosen into strands. Lightly dust with flour and toss to separate strands. Trim stringy ends. Transfer to baking sheet, grouping into 4 nests, or loose piles; cover. Repeat with remaining dough. (You should have 8 nests.)