With time, know-how and a few basic ingredients, you can make fresh pasta at home. We asked Stellina chef Jamey Tochtrop, who has been making pasta for 13 years, to share his recipes, techniques and tips.

Tochtrop spent four months developing this highly versatile recipe, and it has remained unchanged for 10 years. The recipe has never been published before.

(View photos above for the steps listed below.)

Serves | 4 to 6 |

  • 2½ cups organic semolina flour
  • ¾ cup organic unbleached, unenriched all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 Tbsp finely ground sea salt
  • ¼ cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 extra-large organic eggs
  • 3 extra-large organic egg yolks
  • ½ cup filtered water

| Preparation | Mix flours and salt together. If using an electric mixer, use the dough hook attachment. Slowly add oil until incorporated. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time until all are incorporated. Then add water. Note that water amount may vary depending on humidity.

If mixing by hand, combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour mixed dry ingredients onto a flat work surface. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. | 1 | Slowly add wet ingredients, | 2 | working them into the dry ingredients with a fork or your fingers in a circular motion. Mix slowly until all wet ingredients have been added. | 3 | Using a bench knife, turn the mixture over itself until the dough becomes one mass.

After the dough is mixed, knead it for 3 to 5 minutes by pushing it away from you with the heel of your hand. | 4 | Then pick the dough up and rotate it a quarter turn. Repeat. | 5 | Thorough kneading makes the dough smooth and silky. (The recipe stands up to heavy kneading because of the number of eggs it contains.) Check the dough for air bubbles in the center by cutting the dough in half with a bench knife. When few bubbles are visible, it's ready. Cover dough with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for a minimum of 1 hour.

To form pasta into sheets:

Tochtrop has a warning for folks who want to go old-school and roll out their pasta by hand: Italian grannies make it look easy, but it takes skill, time and elbow grease. Investing in a hand-cranked pasta machine won't break the bank, since reliable models can be purchased at a number of local kitchen shops and department stores for under $100.

Set up a pasta machine or mixer attachment per the manufacturer's instructions. Divide the dough into thirds or fourths, rewrapping the portion you're not working with. | 6 | Flatten the dough to a 1-inch-thickness, | 7 | and run it through the widest roller setting. | 8 | Dust both sides of the dough with flour and | 9 | repeat, gradually adjusting the rollers to narrower settings and flouring both sides of the pasta sheet before every pass through the machine. | 10 | You'll want to end on setting No. 2 or 3, depending on what type of pasta you're making. For lasagna, you'll want thicker sheets; for filled pastas, thinner sheets work best because of the folding involved. Unless you're making ribbon-cut noodles for immediate use, you should allow formed pasta to dry on a rack or a clean, dry dish towel for 15 to 30 minutes before cooking or storing.

WEB EXTRA!

TOCHTROP'S TIPS

  • Always keep fresh pasta dough tightly covered with plastic wrap when not in use.
  • A damp towel can be used to cover dough if it becomes brittle and dry. This will moisten the pasta.
  • Always allow freshly made pasta dough to rest (relaxing the gluten) for at least 1 hour before working into sheets or shapes.
  • It's best not to refrigerate dough before sheeting it, as it will take 2 to 3 hours to retain a workable temperature.
  • When forming dough into sheets, work in smaller batches for filled or hand-made shapes to avoid drying of the pasta sheets during work time. Lasagna sheets and simple-cut pastas can be made in larger batches.
  • Do not fold the dough in thirds between passes through the rollers. If it's been properly kneaded, it shouldn't need additional machine work.

PASTA DOUGH FLAVORING TIPS

Basic fresh pasta is wonderful, but adding flavorings is a great way to expand your horizons.

In general, add flavoring ingredients such as zest, nuts, chopped truffle pieces and squid ink to the dry ingredients to ensure even distribution into the finished dough. Add flavored oils first, as you would with olive oil, decreasing the amount of olive oil accordingly. Add liquids such as lemon juice, tomato juice, or red wine along with water, reducing the amount of water accordingly.

Variations on basic pasta dough:

Cinnamon pasta: Add 3 Tbsp cinnamon (freshly ground for best flavor), 2 Tbsp sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper to dry ingredients.

Lemon pistachio pasta: Add 1 Tbsp lemon zest, ¼ lb toasted and finely ground pistachios and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper to dry ingredients. Replace all water with fresh lemon juice.

Squid ink pasta*: Add 1 to 3 Tbsp fresh squid ink to existing recipe. The amount of squid ink is determined by your taste. The more ink you use, the more flavorful and colorful your pasta will be.

Truffle pasta: Replace olive oil with white truffle oil, and add ¼ lb chopped truffle peelings to dry ingredients.

Basil sunflower pasta: Add 1/8 lb fresh chopped basil and 2 oz toasted chopped sunflower seeds. Replace olive oil with basil oil. To make basil oil, blanch and dry ¼ lb fresh basil and mix with 1 cup grape seed oil or canola oil in a blender for 2 minutes on high speed. Allow to sit for several hours and strain through a chinois or coffee filter.

Black pepper pasta: Add 1 Tbsp coarsely ground black pepper to dry ingredients.

Red wine pasta: Replace all water in recipe with red wine that has been reduced by half and cooled. For additional color, add 1 to 2 Tbsp red beet powder** to dry ingredients.

*Squid ink is available in packets or jars at Bob's Seafood.

**Red beet powder is available at amazon.com.

 

More Feast Magazine | Inspired Midwest food culture covering St. Louis, Kansas City and mid-Missouri articles.