3/4 c. semolina
3/4 c. flour
2 med. eggs
1 Tbsp. mild or med. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
about 4 or 5 Tbsp. water, give or take
Making the homemade pasta dough:
Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and use your fist to make a well in the center.
Break the eggs into the well. Add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well. Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using the fingers of one hand, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water; if the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour. (Don’t worry, you’ll soon grow accustomed to how the dough should feel after you’ve made it a few times.)
Knead the pasta dough until it’s smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Lightly massage it with a touch of olive oil, tuck the dough in a resealable plastic bag, and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The pasta will be much more elastic after resting than it was before. Pass the pasta dough through the pasta machine.
Feed the blob of pasta dough through a pasta machine set on the widest setting. As the sheet of pasta dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the pasta through this same setting a total of 4 or 5 times. This takes the place of kneading the pasta dough and ensures the resulting pasta is silky smooth.
Pass the sheet of pasta dough through the machine again, repeatedly, gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the desired thickness. Your sheet of pasta dough will become quite long—if you have trouble keeping the dough from folding onto itself or if you are making ravioli, cut the sheet of dough in half and feed each half through separately. Generally the second-from-last setting is best for tagliatelle and the last setting is best for ravioli and any other shapes that are to be filled.
After the sheet of pasta dough has reached the requisite thickness, hang it over a broom handle or the back of a chair to dry a little—this will make cutting it easier in humid weather, as it will not be so sticky. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can dust the pasta with a little flour and place it on clean kitchen towels and let it rest for just a short spell.
Shape the pasta by hand (see instructions below) or pass the pasta through the chosen cutters (tagliolini, tagliatelle, etc.) and then drape the cut pasta over the broom handle or chair back again to dry just a little, until ready to cook. You can, of course, again toss the cut pasta lightly in flour (preferably semolina flour) and lay out in loose bundles on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel. Use as soon as possible before it sticks together or place it in a resealable plastic bag and stash it in the freezer.
To cook the pasta dough:
Throw the pasta into a large saucepan of boiling, salted water. You will need about 4 quarts water and 3 tablespoons of salt for every 13 to 18 ounces of fresh or dried pasta. It is the large volume of water that will prevent the pasta from sticking together.
Note: Cooking times for fresh and dried pasta vary according to the size and quality of the pasta. The only way to check is to taste it. However, the basic method of cooking remains the same.
Stir the pasta only once or twice. If you have used enough water and you stir the pasta as it goes in, it shouldn’t stick.
DO NOT COVER the pot or the water will boil over. Quickly bring the pasta back to a rolling boil, stir, and boil until al dente, or firm to the bite, about 2 minutes. The pasta should not have a hard center or be soggy and floppy. If following a specified cooking time, calculate it from the moment the pasta starts to boil again and have a colander ready for draining.
Drain the pasta, holding back 2 to 3 tablespoons of the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan (the dissolved starch in the water helps the sauce cling to the pasta). Dress the pasta straight away with the sauce directly in the pan. (The Italian way is ALWAYS to toss the cooked, hot pasta with the sauce before serving.) Serve the hot pasta immediately with your favorite sauce. Even a copious drizzle of olive oil or melted butter—cooked just to the point of taking on a slightly nutty, toasty brown tinge—and a smattering of fresh herbs constitutes a sauce when the pasta is as tender and tasty as this.
Flavoring the pasta:
Spinach - Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Next, puree 3/4 cup frozen cooked leaf spinach (squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible) in a food processor. Add it to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough method.
Tomato - Add 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato puree to the well in the flour. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.
Herb - Add at least 3 tablespoons herb flavored olive oil instead of the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
*Tested in our Pasta Cooking Class