The second worst thing I’ve learned in cooking is how to make fresh pasta. Because at 2 AM in the morning when your wife wanders in to your office and says “I’m peckish, could you make me some pasta?” it doesn’t do your waistline any good.
This pasta dough comes together in just a few minutes, has a short rest time, and can be rolled out by hand.
The reason this dough is so quick to work with is the reduced number of eggs in the mixture. Just three eggs doesn’t leave a lot of room for moisture to be hanging around.
Break one egg in to the flour and thoroughly combine. You can use a wooden spoon, a stir silicone spoon, or your fingers to work the dough
Break the second egg in to the flour and thoroughly combine
Break the third egg in to the flour and thoroughly combine
Add the olive oil to the mixture and combine
Add 30 ml of the water to the mixture and combine
Keep working the dough until all of the flour has been used up and the bowl is almost clean. If the dough is too dry and won't pick up the rest of the flour, add 5 ml of the remaining water and repeat until you collect all of the flour
Flour a work surface with small handful (50 g) of flour
Turn out the pasta dough on to the floured work surface
Knead the dough by folding it over, pushing down, then folding over and pushing down again. You won't have to knead very much.
As you work the dough, check for moisture. You want the dough tacky, but not sticky. Every few folds of the dough, sprinkle a generous pinch of flour, then fold it. Check for tackiness again. When you touch the surface of the dough with your finger tip, it should be tacky, but it shouldn't stick to your finger when you pull away.
Once you have a good consistency of dough, fold it in to a tight ball.
Flour the work surface once more with a small handful of flour
Put the dough on the flour to prevent sticking, invert the mixing bowl you used earlier which will now cover the dough, and walk away for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, use the pasta in whatever way you see fit.
Cooking the pasta
If you want a super simple pasta dish after all your hard work, butter, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan, salt and pepper makes for a wonderful midnight snack.
Set a large saucepan over a medium heat
Fill the saucepan with 4 liters (1 gallon) of cold water
Throw in five or six generous pinches of kosher salt or four pinches of regular salt
Add a splash of olive oil
Put on a tight fitting lid
Let the water come to a rolling boil, which should be around 20 minutes or so, which is enough time for your pasta to rest.
Rolling out the pasta
If you own a stand mixer pasta sheet attachment, or a crank handle pasta maker, you're set. Otherwise, you will need some elbow grease and a rolling pin.
Divide the pasta in to six pieces. Put five of the unused pieces under the upturned mixing bowl off to one side so that they don't dry out too much.
On a lightly floured surface roll out one of the pasta pieces to as thin as you desire.
Flour the top of the pasta with a sprinkle of flour.
Roll out once
Turn the pasta ninety degrees
Roll it again
After two turns, flip the pasta sheet over, and roll from the other side.
Use only small amounts of flour to prevent the pasta from sticking to the work surface or the rolling pin
Once you have the pasta sheet nice and thin, use a pizza wheel to slice the pasta in long thing strips. Consistency of width isn't important. Make the strips about 1 cm wide and 30 cm long. I refer to these as "midnight crazy noodles."
After you have sliced up your first set of noodles, put them on a well floured cutting board and turn them in a little of the flour to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Now go roll out and cut up the remainder of the noodles
When you are done rolling and cutting your noodles, carry them over to the water
You will want to cook the noodles in three batches
Drop a third of the noodles in to the water that is at a rolling boil
Cook them until al dente, between 60 and 120 seconds. These are fresh noodles and they cook very fast.
Remove the cooked noodles from the water and place in a bowl with some butter. Toss the noodles to thoroughly coat with butter.
Let the water come back to a boil, and cook the second batch of noodles. Repeat for the third batch.
To prevent the noodles from turning in to a gelatinous mass in the bowl, use separate bowls for each batch.
Sprinkle the cooked noodles with some grated Parmesan cheese, season with salt and butter.
If you want to cut the recipe in half, all you have to do is cut all of the ingredients in half, and just use two eggs instead of three.
The 30 minute rest period lets the gluten in the flour figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. That 30 minutes is just enough time to boil a gallon of water.
This is fresh pasta and it cooks amazingly quickly. Depending on how long and thick you make your noodles, this pasta can cook in as little as 30 seconds.
The pasta can be frozen and keeps in the freezer for several weeks if stored in an airtight bag. To thaw, remove from the freezer and leave on the side for an hour or two.
The dough can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a day.
Whether frozen or refrigerated, always let the dough come up to room temperature for at least 30 minutes or more before using.