You can make the pasta dough the day before, but once it is rolled and cut it is best to cook it within 4 hours. Alternatively, the cut pasta can be hung to dry then transferred to an airtight container for up to 7 days. Or, twist pasta into small mounds and freeze on trays, then transfer to freezer bags and freeze for up to 2 months. Cook from frozen.
Pasta is an unbelievably versatile pantry staple; it’s quick, it’s simple, and with just a few fresh ingredients, it can be transformed in to a delicious, comforting midweek meal. From family favourites like spag bol and easy-as lasagna, to heartier dishes like cannelloni and a raft of vegie-friendly pastas, pasta will keep you inspired.
1.1 Place flour in a mound on a work surface. Make a large well in the centre; break eggs into well (see step-by-step techniques, page 129). Using a fork, gently beat eggs, while with your other hand, reinforce the edge of the flour well to prevent any egg escaping. Continue stirring with the fork drawing in flour until the mixture is very thick; finish working in the remaining flour using your hands.
2.Once flour is incorporated, knead the dough (it should be firm, not sticky) for 5 minutes or until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap; stand for 30 minutes.
3.Divide dough into six pieces. Flatten one piece with your hand until 3mm (⅛-inch) thick; dust lightly with flour.
4.For machine-rolled pasta, set the pasta machine to its widest setting and feed the dough through 4 to 5 times, folding it in half each time and turning it 90 degrees until it is smooth and the width of the machine.
5.Continue feeding the dough through, without folding, narrowing the settings on the machine 1 notch at a time (the highest number is the thinnest setting), until you reach the second last setting. Place pasta sheets on a semolina dusted work surface. Repeat with remaining dough.
6.Drape pasta lengths over a clean opened cupboard door or clothes drying rack ; leave for 10 minutes to dry slightly. Feed dough lengths, one at a time, through cutting attachment on the pasta machine; sprinkle lightly with semolina and place on a tray.
7.Bring a 6-litre saucepan of salted water to the boil. Add pasta, stir once; cook until al dente then drain. (Fresh pasta takes from 20 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the thickness). Serve immediately with your favourite sauce.
8.Using a rolling pin, roll out dough pieces on a lightly floured surface, rolling from centre toward edges. As the dough gets thinner, rotate it 90 degrees and repeat until 2mm thick.
9.For ribbon pasta, dust with semolina and roll into an 8cm-wide flat length, then cut into 5mm (fettuccine) or 1.5cm (pappardelle) wide strips.
Press the dough into a ball, then roll and stretch it on a floured surface. Using the heel of your hand, push the dough gently along the surface. After about 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth and springy. Adjust the hand roller to the thickest setting. Cut the dough in half and feed each half through the roller. Fold dough in half and feed the pieces through the roller again. Begin rolling the dough thinner, by turning the dial to the next thinnest setting. Guide the dough through the roller again, dusting it with flour if necessary. The pasta should be 1mm thick. You might find it easier to work with a helper, so one person can turn the crank and the other can guide the dough into the roller with one hand and catch it with the other hand. Be careful not to stretch or tear the sheet. Attach the cutting attachment to the hand roller according to your manual’s instructions. Drape the sheet of pasta over one hand as you feed it through the roller. Making fresh pasta is a lot simpler than many people think. The few ingredients needed are readily available and inexpensive, and the process can be really satisfying. Once you have mastered the basics, have some fun experimenting with colours and flavours by adding pureed vegetables to the mix.