Fresh Pasta

Makes 4 servings

2 ½ cups flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp salt

Long, straight rolling pin
Large wooden cutting board

Making the Dough
Sift 2 cups flour and the salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the center. Break the eggs in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and mix with a fork. Pour the eggs into the well. Using the fork, stir around the edges of the well to incorporate the flour slowly into the eggs.
After the eggs are all absorbed, turn the dough onto the wooden cutting board. It will not hold together at this point.
Fold the dough until you form a ball. Incorporate most or all of the flour. If it is very sticky, sprinkle some flour on the ball. Push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand, fold it over, and give it a quarter turn. Repeat for about 5-8 minutes. The dough will stretch and at a certain point, it will “seize” and feel stiff. When it does, roll it into a ball.

Wrap the ball in plastic and put into the refrigerator to rest for at least an hour.

Rolling the Dough
Remove the dough from the fridge and cut it into four sections. Roll the first section into a ball. Cover the rest. Sprinkle some flour on the cutting board and put the ball in the center. Flatten it into a pancake with the rolling pin. Starting from the center of the ball, roll in each direction to keep the mass generally round. If you can’t keep it round, try for a rectangular shape. Sprinkle a little flour on the dough and the board as needed to keep the dough soft and not sticky.

Turn the dough over and keep rolling. Work quickly to keep the dough from drying out and cracking. As the dough thins, you’ll want to try to push the dough away from you, stretching it rather than pressing straight down. At the edge, give the dough an extra push to thin it.

The dough is ready when it is thin enough for you to see the printing on a piece of newspaper slid under the dough. Usually the dough will be dry enough to cut. If it isn’t, put it on some paper towels or a kitchen towel to dry slightly.

Cutting the Dough
Fold the dough like a letter—fold the bottom third up and the top third down over it.
Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut one end of the folded dough to make a straight edge. Using your knuckle as a guide, cut the dough into ¼” strips.

When you are done, unroll the dough. I have found it easy to slip the knife under the upper fold of a section of the roll and lift the pasta. Hold the pasta against the knife with one hand and shake to unroll it. Wrap the dough into a nest shape and set it off to one side. Roll and cut the remaining dough.

When the pasta is cut, you can cook it immediately or cover it with wax paper and let it sit on your counter for several hours. The extra small pieces can be cut into rough shapes and added to a soup. I freeze several batches until I have enough.

Cooking the Pasta
Fill a large pot ¾ full of water. Add a TBS of salt and cover. Bring to a rolling boil. (I often do this while I am making the pasta, then turn the heat off. The water stays pretty hot and can be brought to a rolling boil in a short time when you need it.) Add the pasta. Cover and let come to a boil. (The water will boil over if you do not keep checking it.) Uncover as soon as it is boiling and stir. The cookbooks say it is done 1 minute after the water returns to a rolling boil. I have found that it takes as long as 4 minutes to get the pasta cooked. It should be chewy, but cooked all the way through. Keep stirring and tasting until it is as done as you like.

Put some sauce into a large bowl. Add the drained pasta and mix slightly. Add more sauce and mix again. Serve the pasta with a good homemade tomato sauce, a Bolognese Sauce, or a creamy Alfredo Sauce.

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