I love fresh pasta and I try to eat it as much as I can. So here's my hack for making fresh pasta at home which, with practice, can be done in under 30 minutes.
You had me at pasta, what do I need?
The first thing you should have is a pasta machine as this makes the process a lot quicker and easier. Prices start at £20 but expect to pay £30+ for a good one.For each person you need 100g of plain flour and one whole egg. The purists say to use 00 flour but I get good results with just plain flour. Personally, being a bit greedy, I use 120g of flour, one egg and the yolk of another. This leaves me the white of one egg which I can use to thicken some sauces.
You need to knead!
Mix the flour and egg, I use my hands for this as the dough gets quite tough to work. Alternatively you can use a food processor. You need to mix, squeeze and knead to get the gluten to form and hold the dough together. After a few minutes the dough should be firm enough to shape into a ball.
You're aiming for the consistency and texture of PlayDoh (or plasticine for those of an earlier generation) with a dry, unsticky surface. If the dough is too wet add some more flour, if it's not holding together add some water. But in either case, do add a little at a time as it's easy to go the other way!
Now, unlike other recipes, I just take the pasta to the stage where it just about holds together and don't bother resting it in the fridge. This is the time to start passing the dough through the pasta machine with the rollers at their widest spacing. It will look a fright to start with but it will gradually come together.
After each pass fold the dough in half and pass it through again until the dough holds its shape. The surface doesn't have to be perfectly smooth at this stage.
Cut the dough into four equal strips (per person) as this makes the pasta easier to handle than having one long strip. Start folding these in two, or even three, and passing them through the rollers, still at the widest setting. After a few passes the dough will come out as silky smooth sheets.
Without folding the dough over, pass each sheet through the machine but this time reducing the width of the rollers at each step. Stop when you get to the desired thickness.
My Atlas machine's rollers go from 1 (widest) to 7 and I find 5 a good thickness for tagliatelle and 4 for spaghetti. Now you can let the pasta rest while you make the sauce - the banner photo shows my take on tagliatelle Alfredo with cherry toms and lemon basil.
The last cut is the tastiest
When you're ready to cook the pasta, roll each sheet a final time through the machine; they should come out 20-30% longer. Finally cut your pasta into your desired shape, here I'm cutting out tagliatelle; notice how translucent they are!
Cook the pasta in a generous quantity of salted, boiling water for 1-2 minutes depending on how you like it. Mix with your sauce and serve.
There you go, quick and easy homemade pasta. I hope you enjoy making and eating this as much as I do.