There are few pleasures that compare to fresh pasta. Soft, silky, sproingy, it soaks up sauces with ease—the perfect blank canvas for a filling wintertime meal. But for many home cooks, the idea of making fresh noodles sounds messy, time-consuming, and just plain intimidating. All that cranking! All those different attachments! But what if it were possible to make pasta from scratch without any specialized equipment using just three everyday ingredients? News flash: it is! Here’s how: The trick is a dough that can be easily rolled out by hand without getting tough. Extra egg yolks add structure so the pasta stays strong enough to hold up to a good boil, while a splash of olive oil makes the dough delicately elastic.
2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
2 large eggs plus
6 large yolks
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1. Process all ingredients in a food processor until mixture forms a cohesive ball of dough that feels soft and is barely tacky to touch (about 45 seconds). If you don’t have a food processor, form the flour into a mound on your countertop and dig a well in it. Using your hand, mix from the well outward—the dough will thicken and slowly turn into a ball.
2. Shape the dough into a 6-inch cylinder, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for at least one hour. It should be pliable after resting so that when you press on it, it bounces back.
3. Work in batches so the dough doesn’t dry out. Divide it into 6 equal pieces, leaving one out to work and rewrapping the other five.
4. Dust the dough with flour then press into a 3-inch square. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 6-inch square, then dust again with flour on both sides. Roll into a 6×12-inch rectangle, working from the center of the dough one way at a time. Continue adding flour and rolling until the dough is 6×20 inches, lifting it frequently to release it from the counter. Transfer to a towel and air-dry for about 15 minutes.
5. Starting with the short end gently fold the dried sheet at 2-inch intervals to create a rectangular roll. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into noodles of your desired width. Thicker noodles are great for meat ragus, while thinner noodles hold more delicate sauces made with cream and butter.
6. Unfurl the pasta using your fingers, then transfer to a floured baking sheet. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap while you work on the remaining pieces of dough. Cook in a large pot of salted boiling water—just a few minutes is all it takes. Then slather with sauce and enjoy!
Here are a few other pasta shapes to try once you’ve conquered the basics. Complete steps 1–4 and then give these a go!
Farfalle Cut the sheet of dough into 1- by 1½-inch rectangles. Using your thumb and index finger, pinch in the long sides of each rectangle until they reach the center of the pasta.
Garganelli Cut the sheet of dough into 1 ½-inch squares. Wrap one corner of each square around a floured pencil and with gentle pressure push it away from you until completely wrapped around. Use your finger to gently seal and slide the shaped pasta off.
Ravioli Cut the sheet in half the long way. Drop a teaspoon of your filling in 2-inch intervals from top to bottom, leaving a ½-inch edge on the left side. Fold the right side over and using your fingers, press out any air around the filling and seal the pasta. Cut into squares and repeat with the second sheet.
Fillings can be as simple as fresh ricotta or as complicated as braised beef. Get creative!