Samin Nosrat has a few tips for making dough, then rolling and cutting it.
Rolling the Dough
- The pasta-making process can be time consuming at first. A pasta roller is a huge asset; it’s worth buying one.
- Think of rolling by hand as an advanced technique: Once you’ve developed a sense for working with the dough, you will have a much better understanding of how it will respond.
Using a Pasta Machine
- When you’re working with pasta, you’ll need all of your senses. You’ll quickly learn that every batch is different, depending on everything from humidity and weather to the type of flour and size of your eggs.
- If pasta threatens to stick, dust both the pasta and the work surface with flour. If it’s too dry, add another yolk.
- Watch as it enters the machine, using one hand to ensure it goes in straight and doesn’t ripple or overlap onto itself.
Rolling by Hand
- Before you begin, line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly dust with semolina flour.
- Set aside. Cut off 1/4 of the dough. Rewrap the remaining dough and set aside.
- Place the portioned-off dough onto a large lightly floured surface. Pushing out from the center with the heel of your hand, flatten the dough into a circle.
- Next, use a long rolling pin to push the dough out from the center, without going all the way over the edge.
- Continue rolling outward, moving the dough a quarter-turn after each roll to preserve the circle.
- If the dough starts to stick, lightly dust it with flour and work quickly to prevent it from drying out.
- When the dough is smooth and round, lay the rolling pin across the top of the circle from 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock.
- Wrap the shorter end around the pin and roll it a single turn toward yourself to create a tube.
- Rocking the pin back and forth, use your hands to pull the two edges of the dough away from each other, stretching the sheet until it’s about the length of the rolling pin.
- Unravel the sheet, move it a quarter-turn and repeat the whole process until you’ve gone around the circle. If necessary, repeat until the entire sheet is translucent, about 1/16-inch thick.
- Cut the pasta into sheets, and dust lightly with semolina flour.
- Stack pasta onto the prepared baking sheets and cover with a clean, lightly dampened kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Unlike dry pasta, fresh pasta must be just-barely cooked through.
- At first, the only way to know when the pasta is done is to taste it repeatedly, so stand by the pot, tongs in hand, and be vigilant.
- To cook pasta, bring heavily salted water to a rolling boil. For 4 servings, you’ll want to use at least 5 quarts of water seasoned with 1/2 cup kosher salt or 6 tablespoons fine sea salt.
- Don’t worry about how much salt it takes: Most will go down the drain. You just need a salty cooking environment to season the pasta.
- Add the pasta. After about a minute, stir with tongs or a wooden spoon to encourage them to separate.
- Pasta cooking water, full of salt and starch, is a gift. It seasons and thickens sauces and helps them cling to the pasta. Sneak out a cup or two before draining the pasta.
- Fresh pasta cooks quickly, often in 3 or 4 minutes. Cooked pasta should always be tossed with warm sauce — pesto, which is raw, is an exception — to ensure it is coated properly, so have your sauce warm and ready.
- To refrigerate, store your pasta in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. Refrigerate for up to 1 night.
Basic pasta sheets present many possibilities. You could use them in a savory lasagna or fill and shape them into ravioli or tortellini.