Making pasta by hand is sensual. First you knead the dough, hugging it with your fingers to pull it toward you, then digging the heels of your hands into it and pushing it away, in a soothing rhythm. Then, you let the dough rest for a while and finally, you shape the pasta.
Pasta all’uovo (egg pasta) is not the only handmade pasta there is. Many traditional types of pasta are made with a dough that does not contain eggs: for example, orecchiette, strascinati, maccheroni al ferro, etc. The shaping is done by hand, in some cases with the use of a small tool. While my tagliatelle come out regularly shaped, thanks to the cutter attached to my pasta machine, each one of my trofiette, fusilli al ferro, gnocchetti sardi, etc. is a bit different, hence unique.
The recommendation to start small that I gave in my previous post on pasta holds in this case as well. Make a small amount of dough, so you are not overwhelmed by the task and can focus on teaching your hands the movements that create the pasta shape you have chosen.
After making strascinati, my first adventure in the field of eggless pasta, I realized that a video, even a short, amateurish one, was better than many words at explaining how to make the various shapes, so the posts that I wrote afterwards all contain a view of my hands shaping the pasta under consideration.
As mentioned above, for some of the shapes, I use a small tool: a thin wooden skewer to make maccheroni and fusilli al ferro, and a gnocchi board to shape Sardinian gnocchi.
Do not be discouraged if your pasta does not look great the first time you try your hands at it: give yourself time to practice and approach the task with a sense of humor. I am confident that before long you’ll be happy you started on this path.
Making pasta by hand is joyful.
Hear the pronunciation of the Italian words in this article spoken by me: