The slapping sound made by pasta dough being rolled was the soundtrack of the Sunday mornings of my childhood (in Italy). When I arrived in the kitchen to have breakfast, I would find the pastry board (spianatoia) on the dining table and my mother working on it with her rolling pin (mattarello) to flatten the pasta dough into a large disk. Later, she would fold the disk and cut it into tagliatelle. She would cut the uneven end pieces into quadrucci, small squares to be cooked in broth to make a minestra.
My mother made quattro uova di pasta at a time, meaning she used four eggs to make the dough. When I decided to follow in her footsteps, I started by making dough with one egg at a time (un uovo di pasta). Recipes for handmade pasta usually call for large quantities of ingredients. If you are a beginner and already a bit intimidated by the task at hand, you will be easily overwhelmed; therefore, I recommend you start by making only un uovo di pasta. Then, when you become comfortable, you can double the amount, and so on.
Recently, I decided to get a pasta machine (made in Italy) to simplify the task of flattening the dough. The pasta machine came with an attachment to cut tagliatelle and I often use it. However, sometimes I forgo it in favor of hand-cutting the dough. At other times, I make different shapes, like farfalle (literally, butterflies), for which the dough is cut into rectangles using a pastry cutter with fluted wheel, then each rectangle is pinched in the middle by hand. The pretty pink color of this pasta is due to the addition of a roasted red beet to the dough.
Occasionally, I make mezzelune using a 3-inch fluted round biscuit cutter and fill them with a variation of the traditional ripieno di magro (meatless stuffing), for which I use baby rainbow chard leaves from my garden, instead of spinach, and my homemade ricotta.
If you have leftover pasta, a nice use for it is in a frittata. When the pasta is colorful, like in the case of pink tagliatelle, the result is a kind of modernist painting that makes for a great lunch.
Making egg pasta is not complicated and is quite rewarding. Give it a try and you’ll see. Just remember to start small, so you don’t feel overwhelmed. And if egg pasta still intimidates you, in my next post I will talk about even simpler types of pasta. Stay tuned!
Hear the pronunciation of the Italian words in this article spoken by me: