Pasta! From Scratch

In order to create an array of tasty pasta flavors you need to begin with a basic pasta recipe. I've tried semolina flour as well as my own whole wheat flour, ground from hard winter red wheat, but have found that we prefer the tender pasta that we get from using basic all-purpose flour. I use King Arthur flour. Making pasta is no more difficult, and perhaps even less difficult, than making your own bread. If you don't have a pasta machine, you can roll it by hand using a rolling pin then cut it into strips.

Finished pasta lineup! 

Basic Pasta

  • 3.5-4 cups of flour 
  • 4 Jumbo eggs 
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil 
  • A few Tbsp. of liquid 

Mound the flour on your work surface and create a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well and add the olive oil. Use a fork to stir the eggs and begin incorporating flour, pulling it in from the perimeter of the mound. Push the sides of the flour up from the outside so that you don't break through the wall of the mound. If you compromise the perimeter of the flour mound the eggs will burst forth and escape the well. It is difficult to corral rogue eggs so it is best to keep them under control at all times. You can either quit incorporating flour when the dough comes together in a
cohesive mass (3.5 c. +/-) or you can use all of the flour (4 c.--this will be dry) and sprinkle liquid (see notes on making flavored pastas) or add an extra egg as needed to bring the dough to the desired consistency. The first way is how pasta is traditionally made. I like to pre-measure my ingredients based on 4 cups of flour and compensate for the volume of flavorings added, reducing the flour accordingly, so I typically add liquid to bring my dough to the desired state; it should be soft and pliable but not stick to the work surface. Knead the dough until it springs back on its own when you stretch it.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Unwrap the dough and use a bench scraper to divide it into eight equal portions. This makes it easier to handle when feeding it through the pasta machine. I use the hand-crank style pictured below. 

It came with the attachment for cutting the pasta into linguini or capellini (angel hair). A mini ravioli attachment is sold separately. It feeds the dough sheets in from both sides and fills the ravioli via a hopper then presses the layers together and partially cuts them into squares. If you are looking for these items you may also notice spiral drying racks available. I have not found these to be very useful. The lower arms leave virtually no room for the pasta to hang so you are forced to cut it in very short lengths and/or find something to elevate the rack to gain more height. I also find that they are woefully short on space and don't hold a full single batch of pasta. In order to use my time most efficiently I never make just one batch. If I am going to have flour to clean up it might as well be the result of eight kinds of pasta rather than just one. If you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer you may want to consider the pasta attachment

Start with the pasta machine set on the widest setting (1). Flatten the portion of doughwith your hand so that it is a 

rectangle about 1/2" thick. Feed the dough into the rollers of the machine. I pass the dough through twice at each setting. If your sheet seems to have a pointed end you can fold this over and pass it through the machine agin to "square up" the dough.

 Rotate the dial to the next setting (2) and repeat. Continue this process until the dough is the desired thickness. Although my machine goes to (9) I use setting (6) for linguini. I use the thinner settings for ravioli since two layers are used.

You can use the pasta fresh or hang your pasta to dry overnight. I use a 5.5' tall folding rack with two 2' wide sections. It looks like a room divider with dowels spaced about a foot apart. This holds roughly eight batches of pasta if I keep them close together.

Bag the pasta or store in airtight containers like the large rectangular gladware. I separate each flavor into 4 bags (approx. 6 ounces per bag to serve two) and then keep the bags in food-grade five gallon buckets. This keeps it from getting broken or attracting critters.

Pasta Flavors

When developing flavored pasta I've found that it is best to use ingredients that are in flour or paste form so the pasta remains smooth. Little bits of herbs can cause the (machine) cutter to not completely cut through the pasta so the strands end up staying connected. You don't need to search out spinach flour just buy spinach flakes and grind them in a spice grinder (a coffee grinder reserved for use with spices). Just to make sure my ingredients (pepper, spices, flakes, etc.) are fully ground I pass them through a mesh strainer. You can find concentrated pastes at Italian specialty markets and online. Following are links to a few examples: Sundried Tomato Paste, Anchovy Paste, Pesto Paste & Black Olive Paste

When using a relatively large volume (more than 2-3 Tbsp.) of added powdered ingredients I compensate for the additional dry volume by reducing the flour by an equal amount before mixing in the flavorings. For example, I use 1/2 c. of powdered spinach in my Spinach & Garlic linguini. Before adding the spinach powder I reduce the flour volume to just 3-1/2 cups. Likewise, adding paste is going to increase the moisture of the pasta so you may not need the extra tablespoons of liquid.

When choosing a liquid to moisten the dough water is fine but you can also use this opportunity to be creative. How about sake for the shitake/szechuan or lemon juice to amplify the acidity in the sundried tomato? The choice is yours.

Each of the variations below are based on the 4c. of flour, 4 jumbo eggs and 1 Tbsp. of Olive oil recipe.

Leek Pasta 

1/4 c. Leek powder (ground leek flakes) Reduce flour accordingly. 
Liquid of choice as needed 

Spinach & Garlic Pasta 

1/2 c. Spinach powder (ground spinach flakes) Reduce flour accordingly. 
1 Tbsp. Granulated garlic 
1 tsp. Finely (& freshly) ground black pepper 
Liquid of choice as needed 

Shitake & Szechuan Pepper Pasta 

1/2 c. Shitake powder (ground dried shitake mushrooms) Reduce flour accordingly. 
1 Tbsp. Finely (& freshly) ground szechuan pepper 
Liquid of choice as needed 

Basil & Black Pepper Pasta 

3 Tbsp. Basil powder 
2 tsp. Finely (& freshly) ground black pepper 
Liquid of choice as needed 

Sundried Tomato Pasta 

1/2 c. Sundried tomato powder (ground sundried tomatoes*--see note) Reduce flour accordingly. 
2 tsp. Coriander Finely (& freshly) ground black pepper 
1 tsp. White pepper Finely (& freshly) ground black pepper 
Liquid of choice as needed 

*I used the tomatoes that I dried this past summer: Sundried Tomatoes

The drawback to using these is that their leather-like consistency makes them clump rather than grind. To minimize this tendency I used a few tablespoons of flour in the grinder. This helped significantly but still left some small pieces. Next tomato season I plan to make a sundried tomato paste for use in my pasta.

Lemon Pepper Pasta

1 Tbsp. Finely (& freshly) ground black pepper 
2 Tbsp. Lemon zest 
Juice of the zested lemon(s) use as needed to create the desired consistency dough 

J.O. Spice** & Lemon Pasta

1 Tbsp. J.O. No. 1 50% less salt 
2 Tbsp. Lemon zest 
Juice of the zested lemon(s) use as needed to create the desired consistency dough 

**J.O. Spice is a regional seafood seasoning similar to Old Bay but I like it better. I use J.O. No.1 50% less salt because I can spice it up without over salting. A little goes a long way so the 12 ounce bottle will last you a while. If you are a huge seafood fan and like to steam shrimp you can also get the low salt version in 24 ounce and 10 pound sizes. 


With the exception of J.O. Spice and dried shitake mushrooms I purchased all flakes, spices and dry seasonings at Martin's Farm Market. They carry some dried mushrooms but I buy a variety of large bags at an Asian market.
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