Have you ever wanted to make fresh homemade pasta? Well you should!!! I love making fresh homemade pasta, and I love to teach pasta classes. Yes, it is a bit more time consuming and you have to put forth some effort, but every bite of the dish you prepare will be amazing. Trust me! Fresh pasta versus boxed pasta are 2 totally different pastas. That's not to say that boxed pasta isn't amazingly convenient (I am a big fan when I don't have the time or energy to spend some time in the kitchen). If you have ever made fresh homemade pasta, or you are new to the game (welcome!) and you want to make it like an Italian every time; here are some tricks to help you in the kitchen.
1. Move to Italy! Just kidding haha!!! It all starts with the dough. Forming the right dough allows you to roll out a beautifully smooth and easy pasta dough. If not you will be fighting with the dough and this is typically what happens when people make fresh homemade pasta. It is a frustrating situation to be in because it requires so much effort and force to work with it that it ends up causing stress and not enjoyable to prepare. Trust me I have been there many times! The key is not to give up keep trying until you reach the smooth soft dough. This means kneading it correctly. I recommend kneading the dough with the outside part of your palm. Where the pinky is. It is a more delicate part of the hand and you won't be tempted to use your fingers which is not the way to knead pasta dough.
2. Use room temperature eggs when making pasta. Leave the eggs in a bowl on the counter top for about 1-2 hours before making pasta. When we use eggs from the fridge they are cold and dense. This can cause the dough to then be dense and not pliable. We want to avoid that at all costs when making pasta. Scramble each egg individually into the flour to incorporate slowly. Try not to over mix.
3. I learned this trick when I was staying with a family in Parma, Italy. I was there to study their local and family recipes. It was an experience of a lifetime to say the least. It was a few days into the trip when we finally made fresh homemade pasta. Now I had already been to culinary school a few years before, learned to make pasta from an Italian chef, and practiced many many many times on my own, but learning from Stefania was different. She taught me something very important. Never let your pasta dry out! Putting a damp kitchen towel will not do the trick. The Italian trick from Italy is to always work on a wooden surface. I like to use a large wooden cutting board. After making the dough and kneading it to smoothness and just the right amount of gluten activated you place the pasta dough on the wooden surface and cover it with a porcelain bowl. This traps the pasta dough and does not let any air in. The pasta dough can rest and relax the gluten for about 20-30 minutes, then you can begin to roll it out and shape it as you desire. Always rest the pasta dough under a porcelain bowl!
4. Last but not least, remember to have fun with it! It is just pasta!