Making fresh pasta at home is one of my favourite Sunday afternoon rituals. There is something incredibly relaxing about making the dough and shaping the pasta, then crafting a delicious meal from scratch. Best of all, the only strenuous aspects involved are an occasional visit to the stove to stir the slow-cooking sauce, and the odd refill of your glass of Pinot Noir.
Pasta machine-wise, there’s an exhausting array on the market these days, ranging from $20 hand-cranked numbers to restaurant-quality motorised machines. I started my foray into pasta making using the (delightfully red) Jamie Oliver Professional Pasta Machine, but a few years later when I started to get serious about the whole business, I decided to upgrade to something a bit more luxe – enter the Marcato Atlas 150, which is something of a cult favourite among home cooks. The genius of this Italian-imported chromed steel beauty lies in its patented rollers, which are made from anodized aluminum and are crazy-good at preventing the dough from sticking while you’re rolling it out. It also gets bonus points for being rather pretty.
When it comes to the recipe for the dough, there are as many out there as there are varieties of pasta, but I find that a good rule of thumb is 100g of flour and 1 egg per person, give or take a little flour depending on the size of your eggs. I make my dough in my KitchenAid food processor using the plastic dough blade, but you could also use a stand-mixer with the dough-hook attachment, or just mix it by hand if you’re really boss. This recipe serves two very hungry humans:
Measure out 200g of Tipo ’00’ flour and place it into the bowl of a food processor. Crack in two good quality eggs and let it rip until the flour and eggs combine into a ball (about 30 seconds).
Place the dough onto a lightly-floured surface (lightly floured, people – there will be tears later if you use too much) and give it a good knead until it feels super soft and velvety. At this stage you can get cracking on rolling out your dough, or you can wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the fridge for a bit – I find this makes the dough easier to manage later on.
I don’t have a nice stretch of kitchen bench to roll my pasta out on, so I cover my coffee table with a tablecloth and set my machine up there (unorthodox I know, but it makes cleaning up a breeze.) I won’t go into details about how to roll pasta (we’ve all seen Masterchef), but keep in mind that if you’re making a standard fettucine or tagliolini, you don’t have to run your dough through all the thickness level settings. My machine has 9 thickness settings, and I find that 7 or 8 is pretty perfect for a hearty fettuccine with a nice structure and good bite.
Depending on when you plan to eat, you can cook the pasta straight away in plenty of salted boiling water, or leave it to dry if you’re making a big batch in advance – you’ll just need to cook it a bit longer if you go the drying option. There are many fancy pasta drying contraptions on the market, but in the interest of keeping random kitchen implements to a minimum, I find a standard household clotheshorse does the trick. The Kitchn has a great article on other methods of pasta-drying right here.
When it comes to sauce, I am more than happy with some good quality olive oil, a sprinkling of chilli flakes, some fresh basil, and a generous handful of Parmigiano Reggiano. But if I’m in need of something a little heartier, Nigella Lawson’s Lamb Ragù from Nigelissima is the ticket