Italian easy pasta dough recipe

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You think making pasta is a too difficult task for you, don’t you? Well, you’ll succeed in making it wonderfully with my recipe! No specialized equipment, you need a table, a tablecloth, a rolling pin, and a few simple ingredients.

Homemade pasta is light and low-calorie

What are the strong points of my recipe? Rustic flour, wheat durum semolina, and fewer eggs make it low in fat; without salt or any other ingredients, it is tasty, organic, and low calorie, as well. Of course, the sauce and what you eat with it, will make the difference. Have pasta for lunch, in a moderate serving, 80-100 for women and 100-120 for men (these quantities refer to homemade dried pasta for people who are not on a very low calorie diet). A piece of advice? Season pasta with ragù or meat sauce, do not add any cheese. End your meal with an abundant serving of fresh crispy green salad with extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt. Do you still think pasta  may spoil your diet?

What is the best flour for pasta?

It depends on the kind of pasta you want to make- different flours result in different tastes. I usually opt for stone double-milled wheat durum semolina which is quite difficult to find, unless you live near a mill. So, you may choose flour type 0 (Plain flour or all-porpose flour), or type 00 (Patent flour or Pastry flour) which are easily available in any supermarkets, or organic shops. These types of flour are suitable for homemade pasta, as well.

Pasta from durum wheat semolina, is more rustic and coarse, and the sauce clings to it evenly. Instead, if you use more refined flour, the taste will be more delicate and simple. It is up to you!

Does homemade pasta have to dry before cooking?

Yes, definitely. Before cooking homemade pasta, it has to dry otherwise it will get too soft and will release some flour in the water. Let sit both tagliatelle, or stuffed pasta in a cool airy room to dry evenly. Pasta and spaghetti ranks, collapsible pasta drying stand are easily available in household shops or in Amazon, for instance- I do not have them, so I lay pasta onto a big wooden  pastry board, and I move it every then and now to make it dry perfectly.

How to make homemade pasta without a machine?

I must confess it: I don’t have a pasta maker, and I will never buy it. I like using my hands, knead, and feel the flour under my fingers. Of course, If you don’t have pasta maker, you can make only tagliatelle, pappardelle, flat pasta sheets. If you want to make other shapes of pasta, you have to buy it.

How can you make the best pasta you’ve ever eaten?

Well. Let’s start! Put on your kitchen apron, remove everything from the table, and take a cotton tablecloth. Why? The tablecloth makes pasta coarse and sauce will cling to it evenly. Pasta makers can’t make pasta coarse, that’s why I like using my hands, and simple tools: the result will be fantastic.

Here we are, you need:

  • Kitchen table: round is better-you will move around it more easily; a rectangular one fits, anyway;
  • Cotton tablecloth
  • A 1or 1,20 meter long wooden rolling pin; if you can’t find it, you may use a wooden curtain rod, diameter 4 cm. Make sure it is not painted but natural wood.

What are the most common problems you may find?

  1. Why is my homemade pasta dough sticky? It happens for tow reasons: first, you haven’t used enough flour. So, do not panic and add a little flour a time and go on working until the desired consistency. Second: you have used the right quantity of flour, but the weather is really wet. No problem, add more flour on the rolling pin, on the tablecloth, and on the pasta until it doesn’t stick any more. Add flour little by little not to make pasta too tough.
  2. Why is my homemade pasta dough tough? You have used too much flour. You can’t save it, sorry, you have to make it again.

Now it is time to decide the shape of pasta. You can make tagliatelle, pappardelle, or sheets to prepare lasagne or cannelloni. The thickness of the strips you are going to cut, will make the difference.

So:

  • Pappardelle and tagliatelle: when the dough is still soft, cut the round sheet of pasta you have just made into 4 portions. Roll up and cut it into 1 cm strips. Unroll the strips and let it dry on a floured wooden surface;
  • For cannelloni and lasagne: the operation is the same, but cut bigger portions to fit the baking pan (for lasagna) or the stuffing (for cannelloni).

Let it dry for about 4-5 hours before cooking. If you make it the night before, the result will be perfect!

Protect pasta from the dust with a cotton or linen tea-towel which lets it “breathe” and dry evenly.      

What can I do with dough scraps from a round pasta sheet?

Well, do not knead any more, because it has become too dry. You can make “maltagliati”-“badly-cut”- a kind of irregular pasta shape you can enrich a vegetable soup with; or combine them with pulses in a rustic soup.

Can fresh pasta be cooked “al dente”?

Well you have just made pasta on your own, now be careful to cook it. Bring the water to a rolling boil (see the method-internal link), salt it, and when it returns to the boil, shake off the excess of flour and gently pour tagliatelle in the right moment. Do not pour pasta when the water is  not boiling because it would get sticky and flimsy. Stir gently with a fork or a pair of tongs until it is done.

How do you know it is done? It is consistent and it rolls easily around the fork, and it is not sticky. Do not leave the pot and test it while cooking: it usually takes about 3 or 4 minutes. Overcooking pasta is quite easy.

Drain pasta in a strainer, and season it in a serving bowl with the sauce you like most. Bolognese Ragù is always the best option!

I have made too much pasta, how can I store it?

Fresh pasta has to be consumed in 1 or 2 days, but you may store it in the freezer.

Allow to dry thoroughly and then place it into a container lined with an aluminum foil, cover with another aluminum foil. 

It can be frozen for a month; frozen pasta does not need to be thawed, throw it into boiling water and let it cook. It will take a little longer.   

Last but not the least: can I bake fresh pasta without boiling it?

Yes, of course. Pasta isn’t usually boiled when you make lasagna, sometimes it may be just seared for a few seconds in salted boiling water. In a baking pan layer sheets of pasta and the seasoning, ragù or béchamel sauce, for instance. The sauce should be quite fluid to cook pasta evenly. It will be delicious.

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