Learn about the different types of pasta dough and how to make it at home.
Making fresh pasta is time-consuming and labor-intensive, but the results are extraordinary.
The most luxurious pasta dough is made only with egg yolks; it is golden in color and rich in taste. This pasta is for Sunday dinners and for special occasions, such as when truffles are in season. It does not need intensely flavored sauces; a dressing as simple as butter and grated Grana Padano turns it into a special dish.
The middle golden pasta dough contains a mixture of egg yolks and whole eggs. It is a good pasta for making stuffed pasta like ravioli, tortellini, lasagna, and manicotti. It is resilient and makes great pappardelle; it is also good with robust tomato-based sauces.
Light egg pasta dough is made with only two eggs, and water is used to bind the dough. It cooks faster than the other two and absorbs sauces more readily. I like it for fish and vegetable sauces, and even more with intense game-based sauces. It is good when shaped like garganelli; I enjoy pappardelle made from this pasta as well.
When making egg-pasta dough, you can use either the hand method or the machine method to kneed the dough. However, especially if it is your first time, I suggest you use the food processor. The processor blade can knead the dough to a workable consistency in seconds. The dough is done when it collects into a ball on the side of the processor, if it is still sticking to the bottom you need more flour, on the other hand if it is floury you need more water.
Take the ball of dough out of the processor kneed it a bit by hand, sprinkling some flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and remember that any dough, whether hand- or machine-mixed, should rest for 30 minutes before you roll it. Then you can cut the pasta in shapes and cook it right away or freeze it. Ideally, you should cook it the same day it is made, but it does keep well frozen. Make sure to toss it with coarse semolina flour or fine corn meal after it is cut and shaped so it does not stick. Smaller shapes of homemade pasta should be spread out and frozen on a sheet pan. Long cuts of fresh pasta are best wound into a single-serving-size portion, set on a floured baking sheet, and frozen as individual mounds.
Once you are ready to use the frozen pasta, shake off the excess flour and throw the frozen pasta directly into the boiling water; stir immediately so it does not stick.