How to Make Basic and Flavored Pastas
Originally published February 14, 2013. Updated on 9/10/2021
Homemade pasta may sound fancy and exotic at first, but it's actually quite easy - and can be fun, too!
When we recently purchased a pasta machine, we went a bit nuts with it, churning out 7 different pasta doughs the first afternoon.
SO much easier to run them through a machine, than to roll it with a pin.
Anyway, here's the thing - because so many different things - humidity, the type of flour, etc - can affect how your pasta turns out, it's the kind of thing that doesn't need a real "recipe", per se.
You can more or less wing it, so long as you keep the basic concepts in mind.
I’m intending this blog entry as a bit of an overview and inspiration, and hope you use it as a springboard for whatever wild pasta idea you come up with!
First off, at its very basic, pasta is just flour and eggs.
Mix the two ingredients together, knead it for about 10 minutes, let it rest for 30 minutes, and then.. you play.
That's it! Simple, right? Well, you’ll want to keep some things in mind...
Homemade Pasta Ingredients
First, let's take a closer look at those ingredients.
Flour for Making Pasta
We tend to just use all-purpose flour, as we always have a ton of it on hand... but that's not your only option.
Many people will cut the all-purpose flour with some semolina flour, or use ONLY semolina flour.
If you want to get fancy with it, you can substitute other flours for part of the flour (you'll want some regular gluten - I'll experiment with gluten-free pastas another time!).
Oat flour, millet, barley - each will bring a unique taste and texture to your finished pasta.
Use fresh, good quality, large eggs.
Flavour Ingredients for Making Fresh Pasta
Now, in addition to those two ingredients, you can add other stuff to flavor it - usually in paste or dried form.
Finely Ground Pesto
“Finely” being key here. Chunks of nuts will not go through the pasta machine well, so you want it a fine paste!
Your best option is to Make your own pesto, and just skip the nuts entirely.
Think beets, winter squash, garlic, peppers, carrots. Roast them, peel them, and puree them into a fine paste.
Note: Roasting is important for two reasons.
First off, you need them soft enough to puree.
Secondly, roasting cooks with dry heat. You don’t want to boil your beets, squash, sweet potatoes, etc... as that’ll add liquid to it.
This will screw with your proportions, when making the pasta!
Dried Herbs and Spices
Dried herbs and spices can be added to either of the above, for more complex flavors.
Try roasted red peppers with a little bit of cayenne or smoked paprila, for instance!
Spinach can be boiled or microwaved for a few minutes, strained VERY well - ideally squeezed out! - and then pureed... but think of the other possibilities!
Beet greens, kale, mustard greens - when used sparingly - can produce interesting flavors as well!
Making Flavoured Pasta
Now, on to how to combine them. (Actual recipes follow at the end of the post!)
First off, I like to start with about 1 egg for every ¾ - 1 cup of flour.
As far as flavors go, I usually aim for about ¼ cup of pureed flavor for every 1 ½ - 2 cups of flour in the basic recipe, and then add a bit of extra flour to make up for the additional moisture from the paste.
Sometimes, I'll reduce the amount of egg, rather than add flour.
Like I said - you can kinda wing it.
As far as equipment goes, you CAN roll this out on a flat surface, using a rolling pin. I find that frustrating, so I use THIS set on my stand mixer.
I also had one of these standalone pasta makers, before I got the set for my stand mixer.
Would wholeheartedly recommend either of those, depending on your needs/situation/budget for it!
More Pasta Recipes
Looking for tasty ways to carb load? I've got you covered!
Acorn Squash Tortellini with Nutmeg Cream Sauce
Beet and Goat Cheese Ravioli With Basil Cream Sauce
Chocolate Dessert Ravioli
Creamy Creole Pasta - Gluten-Free
Marie's Pasta Salad
Pasta Alla Porters
Spinach Pine Nut Ravioli with Brown Butter Sauce
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Basic and Flavoured Pastas
My Basic Pasta Recipe
- 3+ Cups Flour
- 4 Large Eggs
My Spinach Pasta Recipe
- 5 oz Fresh Baby Spinach Steamed, strained well, then pureed
- 2 Cups Flour
- 2 Large Eggs
My Beet Pasta Recipe
- 2 Small Beets Roasted, Peeled, then Pureed
- 3 Cups Flour
- 3 Large Eggs
My Pesto Pasta Recipe
- ½ Cup Pesto Finely pureed - ideally without nuts.
- 2+ Cups Flour
- 2 Large Eggs
- Once you have ingredients figured out, it’s just a matter of pulling them together into a dough. There are three main ways you can do this:1. By hand. Stir your wet ingredients into the flour, use your hands to knead it into a dough.2. By stand mixture: Dump everything in the bowl of your stand mixture, attach a dough hook, and let it do its thing.3. In a food processor. Put all the ingredients into a food processor, let it rip.For any of these three methods, you should adjust ingredients as you go. Once it comes together, pinch a piece of dough. If it’s sticky, add a little flour and blitz again, adjusting as necessary. When dough feels soft and a little moist, without actually being sticky, you’re good to go!
- Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead for 2-5 minutes, (~10 if not using a mixer or food processor) until soft and elastic.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 30 minutes, to relax the gluten.
- Once time is up, run it through your pasta machine, following the manufacturer’s directions. Once your pasta is ready, boil it in a pot of salted water for a few minutes, and serve it however you’d like.