Fresh Pasta at Your Fingertips: 4 Recipes, No Machine Required
When life hands you a craving for fresh, homemade pasta but no pasta machine, don’t despair! Although a machine removes some of the hassle, there are still plenty of options for making spaghetti, gnocchi, and ravioli in your own kitchen.
This of course isn’t going to help when you need a 30-minute meal or don’t want to work for your dinner. However, when you need a dish that brings that extra something to the table, homemade pasta is the way to go. The process isn’t as complicated as it seems, and any of the following four methods will have those around your table heaping praise on the chef. Keep reading to see how easy homemade pastas can be.
1. Spaghetti or fettuccine noodles
Busy Mom’s Menu Plan has an easy way to make pasta noodles, no machines necessary. Instead, you’ll use your rolling pin for folding the dough. Pair the noodles with your favorite sauce, whether it’s a basil pesto – like this one from the Food Network – or a marinara sauce from Lidia’s Italy.
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons milk
Directions: On a clean work surface, combine flour and salt. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, olive oil, and milk. Gradually pour egg mixture into flour well while mixing with fingers. Using your hands, form mixture into a ball. Knead well for 5 minutes, or until smooth.
Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Let dough “rest” for 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough until very thin (⅛ inch or less in thickness).
Let dough sit for 3-5 minutes in order to harden slightly. Once you have your dough rolled out, lightly flour the top. Loosely roll the dough onto the rolling pin. Carefully slide the rolling pin out of the dough and gently press down. With a sharp knife, cut dough into strips of desired thickness. (Thicker cuts will result in fettuccine-like pasta; thinner will be more similar to spaghetti).
Continue cutting until all strips are cut through. Gently unfold strips. Boil pasta in a large pot of water for 4 minutes for al dente.
When it comes to ravioli, you can fill it with any combination of meats and cheeses — like these four fillings from Food.com. But before you can fill the pasta pillows, you need to know how to form the shapes, and Good Food Stories has the know-how when it comes to ravioli without a machine. It starts with preparing a basic pasta dough — like the one from the previous recipe, this one from Mario Batali, or you can substitute in another. Most doughs are essentially the same, with a combination of eggs, flour, olive oil, and salt. After you’ve kneaded your basic pasta dough, let it sit for 15 minutes.
While the dough sits, dust your kitchen work station with flour. Halve the ball of dough, covering the half you’re not using with a tea towel. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it reaches ⅛ inch thickness. Add flour if it gets sticky. The dough will likely bounce back, but be patient, gently working it with your hands until it is about 8 by 16 inches. Repeat this process with the other half of dough.
With the hard work over, you now get to add your fillings. Lay one of the pasta sheets on the counter and place tablespoons of filling on the sheet, leaving a space of about one inch between the mounds. A total of 16 tablespoon-sized mounds should fit in two rows. Brush water with a pastry brush in the spaces between the fillings so the top layer of dough will stick.
Set the second pasta sheet on top, pressing down between the two layers to seal the sheets together and to eliminate air in the pockets of filling. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut out the raviolis; press down again to seal the dough. Now you’re ready to boil! Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook until ravioli starts to float and the pasta reaches the desired consistency. Depending on the size of your ravioli and thickness of the dough, this can take anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes.
3. Herbed tortellini
Like other homemade pastas, tortellini is labor intensive — but since you work in batches, you can freeze bags of it. The recipe below from Doughmesstic will make a big batch of the cheese-filled pasta, so freeze what you won’t be using immediately so you can have fresh tortellini at your fingertips. Use any combination of spices you prefer for the 2 to 3 tablespoon mixture in the dough.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- dash of salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons combined of the following spices: powdered garlic, oregano, basil, powdered parmesan, ground red pepper, ground sun-dried tomatoes, onion powder
- around 1 cup grated fresh mozzarella (or grated pre-packaged will work, too)
- 1/3 cup fresh ground Parmesan
- pinch garlic powder
Directions: Using your stand mixer and dough hook, combine all ingredients on low speed until very well combined and the dough is a big ball. This is a tough dough, so watch the mixer — it will fight you a bit. Remove the dough and begin to knead the dough by hand until smooth and pushes back. Knead by hand at least 15 minutes, maybe more. Form into a ball and tightly wrap in plastic while you prepare the filling.
Have the filling ready when you are starting to roll out the dough. The dough needs to rest for around a half-hour or more before you roll it. Cut the dough into thirds and rewrap the 2/3 you aren’t rolling so that it doesn’t dry out. Roll out the dough with a pin or, if you have it, a pasta maker. Rolling by hand isn’t terribly difficult, but you will need to use some muscle. Roll as thin as possible, so that when you hold it up to the light, you can almost see through it. It helps to routinely flip the dough over and re-roll it, over and over.
Once it is rolled out, using a large round cookie cutter (2 inches or so in diameter), cut out as many circles as you can. This dough will dry out pretty quickly, so don’t wander off. The dough that is left over after cutting the circles can be re-rolled to make more circles. Once cut out, put a small amount of the cheese filling on the round, apply a small amount of water to half of the circle with your fingers, then fold in half, making sure to seal tightly. Finally, pull the sides together to form the classic tortellini shape and pinch the ends together.
Place the filled tortellinis on a dishtowel as you go, so that they won’t stick to your work surface. Once you have finished the first third, move on to the remaining dough and repeat the process until all of the dough has been used. Prepare as desired.
4. Ricotta gnocchi
Of course, if rolling out pasta dough sounds like a sticky mess that will cover your kitchen in flour, try gnocchi! Rolled into ropes instead of flattened, some find it an easier option for homemade pasta. This AllRecipes.com dish has a homemade sauce, too.
- 1 (8-ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, or as needed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 dash crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 6 basil leaves, finely shredded
- salt and pepper to taste
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small chunks
Directions: Stir together the ricotta cheese, eggs, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large bowl until evenly combined. Mix in 1 cup of flour. Add additional flour if needed to form a soft dough. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 pieces, and roll into half-inch-thick ropes on a floured surface. Cut each rope into 1-inch pieces and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in diced tomatoes and red pepper flakes; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in shredded basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil the gnocchi until they float to the surface, 1 to 2 minutes, then drain.
To assemble the dish, stir the cubed mozzarella cheese into the sauce and allow the heat of the sauce to soften, but not melt the cheese. Place gnocchi into a serving bowl, and spoon sauce over top.