Heavenly Handmade Pasta
Tips and Tricks from Sotto 13 chef Ed Cotton
To get pro pasta-making tips we spoke with Ed Cotton, executive chef of Sotto13 in New York and Top Chef alum.
Although sometimes a laborious task, making homemade pasta can be a rewarding and delicious feat. But getting the perfect pasta can be tricky. You have to have the right ratio of dough ingredients, know how to work the dough to just the right consistency, and have the patience to roll it out and form it to the desired shape. To get pro pasta-making tips we spoke with Ed Cotton, executive chef of Sotto13 in New York and Top Chef alum.
Chef Cotton tells us that the type of flour used is important —00 flour and All Trumps flour will get you a lighter and less chewier pasta. He also keeps chestnut flour on hand along with whole wheat flour, but he says that “usually, it’s a blend of 00 Caputo flour and All Trumps flour.” When making pasta, chef Cotton doesn’t use eggs all the time. His “cavatelli dough and orecchiette dough just require the right amount of flours and warm water to make [the dough] come together.” After everything is mixed together, the final consistency of the dough should be quite firm. He also tells us that a pasta maker is a must, and it’s hard to achieve a thin, rolled out sheet of pasta without using a pasta maker. His number one tip: “buy fresh farm eggs!” Chef Cotton tells us that fresh eggs “will make your pasta dough bright and tasty.” Also, he recommends not making the dough in a food processor, but kneading it by hand instead to get the best results.
After the expert pasta is made, what about sauces? For a tomato sauce, chef Cotton likes to caramelize anchovies in the pot before adding garlic and onions. He says that this “brings a depth to the sauce that’s like no other.” He also says that “finding the right brand of tomatoes is key. La Valle tomatoes are a great brand of canned tomatoes to use for your sauce. I also like to use fresh herbs in my sauce while simmering it. I make a sachet of basil, rosemary, oregano, and thyme and cook it down with the sauce.”
If you are going to embark on making homemade pasta at home, try using some of chef Cotton’s expert tips. Creating a special dish of homemade pasta is nothing more than a bowl of love (and hard work) that everyone will enjoy.
Emily Jacobs is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes.
Easy Homemade Pasta Recipe
Looking for an easy homemade pasta recipe with step by step instructions for making pasta? Today we’re going to teach you how to make pasta, one of the best homemade pasta recipes we could find, in your own kitchen. If you are craving FRESH, thin, firm and ultimately ‘al dente’ strips of pasta that are so heavenly, you can absolutely feel like all of your stresses are floating away in the midst of nowhere, then fear not! We’re going to show you how to make homemade pasta right in the comfort of your own home. Pasta is and will always be any person’s go-to meal after a tough and tiring day. In fact, pasta is a good source of carbohydrates, and you can definitely count on it to keep you all pumped up no matter what the day has in store for you! Are you ready to make pasta at home with our quick and easy recipe instructions? Check out all the best homemade recipes on our site!
To make our homemade pasta, we&aposre using semolina flour, a high-protein flour made from Durum wheat. It makes better pasta than all-purpose flour because it develops a stronger gluten structure, which means a more pliable dough. Follow along with the recipe for Fresh Semolina and Egg Pasta.
To make the dough by hand, mound the flour in a bowl or better yet on a flat, non-porous surface — your counter or tabletop work great. Add a pinch of salt to the flour. Without it, the pasta will taste flat.
Make a well in the mound of flour and crack the eggs into the well. Use a fork to beat the eggs in the well, then slowly incorporate the flour from the sides of the well into the egg mixture. (If you prefer no eggs in your pasta, we can do Eggless Pasta, too.)
Once the flour is fully incorporated and is too thick to mix with a fork, it&aposs time to knead by hand. Kneading the dough creates the critical gluten structure that holds the pasta together. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook simplifies the process. But kneading by hand is fun — it connects you to the process. And it&aposs a decent workout, which means you can eat a little extra pasta!
Either way, knead the dough until it is smooth, very firm, and dry — about 8 to 12 minutes. Depending on the grind of your semolina, the dough might be more or less smooth. But if it feels sticky, dust your dough and work surface with semolina flour and knead until smooth and firm. If the dough is even a bit too wet, it will stick when you run it through the pasta machine or roll it out.
The dough is ready to be shaped when you can set the dough on a clean countertop without it sticking.
Portion the dough into balls. Keep the balls of dough relatively small for easier handling — about tennis ball-size. As you become more comfortable with the dough, you can shape larger pieces of pasta.
Tightly wrap the pasta dough in plastic and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour to give the gluten a chance to relax. This step makes the dough easier to work with — keeps it from shrinking and snapping back as you stretch it.
Okay, your pasta dough has been portioned and has relaxed. Now you&aposre ready to make some pasta noodles!
If you&aposre using a pasta machine, dust it with a little all-purpose or semolina flour. While dusting, spin the rollers to coat them with a very thin layer of flour.
Flatten the dough on the end you&aposll be feeding into the pasta machine. The rollers will catch it and pull it through. Set the rollers to the largest setting. Feed the dough through the machine, fold into thirds, and roll again.
Repeat this process, narrowing the roller settings as you go, until the dough is the desired thickness. The dough should be smooth, shiny, a little moist, and have no cracks or blemishes.
Tip: If you&aposre working with only a portion of the dough at a time, keep the remainder wrapped in plastic to prevent it from drying out.
Okay, your dough is the right thickness. Now it&aposs time to make some pasta shapes! If you like, you can let the dough rest for a few minutes. But not too long, or it will dry out and become brittle.
You can make any sort of thin, flat pasta, including lasagna, fettuccine noodles, and linguine. To make more complex shapes, like penne, spaghetti, or macaroni noodles, you&aposll need special cutters and pasta machine attachments.
For simple flat noodles, measure a length and cut it off the long sheet. To make fettuccine noodles, cut the sheets about every 12 inches. Attach the fettuccini noodle cutter (it has approximately 1/4-inch slats) to the pasta machine and dust it with flour while spinning the rollers. Feed one end of the pasta sheet into the rollers. The pasta will emerge as beautiful fettuccine.
Allow the entire sheet to go through the cutters, then dust the noodles lightly with flour so they don&apost stick together.
Special Casarecce and Sausage Recipe
The taste of pasta recipes becomes more mouth-watering if a smoky texture is added to the recipe along with the gravy and spicy tang. For this reason, the use of sausages in the pasta recipes makes the dish more tempting. So let’s start the recipe:
- 1-package of Casarecce noodles (any choice)
- ½ tsp of salt and pepper
- ½ cups of olive oil
- ½-lb of sausages
- ½ tsp of chopped thyme leaves
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- ½ cups of shredded cheese (any choice)
- ½ tsp of lemon juice
- 2 cups of water
Methods of Preparing Step by Step:
In a saucepan, take water and bring it to a boil under medium-high temperature. Then pour in the packed noodles and sprinkle salt on top. Simmer the pasta until it gets soft and tender.
Drain water and then transfer the cooked noodles to a bowl and let it cool for some time. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, pour olive oil and start to heat under medium heat.
When the oil gets heated, add in the sliced sausages and start to fry them. Sprinkle salt and pepper to enhance the flavor of smoky texture. After that, add in the minced garlic cloves and sauté the mixture to make a fried and spicy gravy texture.
Then add the cooked pasta to the frying pan and start to stir the mixture for proper mixing of all the spices. Add in extra water if the gravy gets too much dried.
Then sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and simmer the pasta for 6-8 minutes until the cheese gets melted. Then remove heat and sprinkle lemon juice on top for a savory taste.
Finally, add in the chopped thyme leaves and then the delicious sausage and pasta recipe is ready to be served.
How To Make Pasta In A Food Processor:
This is my preferred way to make homemade pasta because it’s the quickest and easiest! Simply add all four ingredients to the bowl of a food processor (fitted with the normal blade attachment). Pulse for about 10 seconds, or until the mixture reaches a crumbly texture (see above). Remove the dough and pat it into a ball with your hands and place it on a lightly-floured cutting board. Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. (If the dough seems too dry, add in an extra tablespoon or two of water. If the dough seems wet or sticky, just add in some extra flour, but you the dough to be fairly dry.) Form the dough into a ball with your hands, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day.
There is truly nothing better than homemade pasta. It may seem a little daunting at first but once you feed the dough through the pasta roller a few times, you will be hooked! My husband showed me how to make this very pasta (he used his Italian grandma’s recipe) on our third date and well, I ended up marrying him so there’s that.
We also used this recipe religiously throughout the pandemic, dropping off batches of pasta at our neighbors. I also cannot even begin to tell you how many times we used this pasta in this recipe. After this, we haven’t been able to touch the boxed pasta ever again.
It may seem a little daunting at first but practice makes perfect. After your first run of making homemade pasta with these helpful tips, you will become an absolute pro in no time. Promise.
Types of flour – all-purpose, semolina, and 00 flour
Most pasta recipes recommend using semolina or 00 flour. Semolina has a heartier texture, helping soak up rich sauces, while 00 flour has a powdery texture, yielding silkier pasta noodles. These flours can be found at speciality Italian markets.
I prefer to use a combination of all-purpose flour and semolina or 00 flour, depending on what I have on hand. However, all-purpose flour also works very well.
The beauty of pasta dough is that it can be made ahead of time! Up to one day if placed in the fridge or up to four weeks if placed in the freezer. With either option, just to be sure to let the dough come to room temperature before kneading and feeding through the pasta attachments.
Recipes to use homemade pasta
Go Straight to Carb Heaven With These Crowd-Pleasing Pasta Recipes
Pasta. How many love letters could we write to pasta? Well. a ton, because there are so many different kinds of pasta recipes out there. There are the gloriously saucy, the slick and garlicky, the thick and cheesy—and that's just touching the tip of the iceberg. The best pasta recipes require a quick prep time, a few delicious ingredients, and the ability to make your day melt away with one bite. That's why we've rounded up our favorites here, in the hopes of bringing pure carby joy to you, your family, and anyone else who's lucky enough to sit at your table.
Trying to cozy up during fall? Pumpkin bacon carbonara is so irresistible, you'll wish it was the scent of one of your seasonal candles. Trying to feed a crowd, and not sure if everyone will like the same dish? Well, with chicken Alfredo stuffed shells, you won't have to worry about that. (In fact, make two batches.) And if you're trying to eat less meat-based sauces and dishes, pasta with roasted red pepper sauce has a nice, bold flavor and will make any vegetarian happy. Check out these easy pasta meals below that are perfect for any occasion (even breakfast—we don't judge!).
Roll the Dough Again
After the dough has completely passed through the pasta machine, turn the slot down to the next smallest setting and pass the dough through the slot. Continue to do this, making the slot smaller by 1 each time. Don't try to skip a number, as this will only cause the machine to jam and you'll end up with a crumpled dough.
As you continue rolling the pasta, your sheet of dough will get longer and longer. Try to gently hold the dough as it exits the pasta machine so it doesn't tear.
Continue passing the dough through the machine until it's about 1/16th of an inch thick.
Creamy Cheese Sauce with Chicken Pasta Recipe
This is one of the best recipes using Boursin cheese as tender and smoky chicken pieces are added with the creamy. Besides, the spicy tang and fried veggies made this dish more tempting. So lets the recipe:
- 1 lb of boneless chicken
- 1-package of pasta (any choice)
- ½ cups of chopped onions and broccoli
- ½ cups of olive oil
- 2 cloves of minced garlic
- 2 sticks of butter
- ½ cups of Boursin cheese
- 1 tsp salt and pepper
Methods of Preparing Step by Step:
In a saucepan, bring salted water to a boil under high heat and then add pasta into it. When the pasta gets soft and tender after a few minutes, drain water and set them aside.
In a frying pan, take olive oil and start to heat under medium flame. Then add in the chopped onions and broccoli to fry for a couple of minutes.
After that, add the chopped chicken strips and sauté the mixture until the chicken gets smoky and tender.
Then take out the chicken pieces and veggies and place butter sticks in the pan. When the butter melts to smooth cream, add in minced garlic and Boursin cheese along with salt and pepper. Stir the mixture until the cream gets smooth and gravy.
Take the cooked pasta and chicken strips in a mixing bowl to make a chicken pasta mixture. Then toss the upper layer of the pasta with the prepared butter and cheese cream.
Finally, mix the mixture for a couple of minutes and then the delicious Boursin cream sauce with chicken pasta is ready to be served.
3 authentic Italian recipes straight from the pantry
Wherever you are in the world, head to your local supermarket, and you will most likely be able to find a treasure trove of Italian deli staples, from pastas to pulses, cured meats to smoked fish, jarred vegetables, cheese and wine. The very best of Italian produce, at your fingertips.
Enter, the Italian Deli Cookbook by River Cafe alumnus Theo Randall. With original, simple recipes, the internationally renowned chef shows you how to take these store-bought yet transformative ingredients into easy lunches, suppers and dinner party centrepieces.
Tapping into the world of pantry cooking – using high quality preserved ingredients as the basis for simple recipes – has never been easier.
If handmade pasta, fragrant Italian sausage and moreish frittata tickles your fancy, here’s three recipes from the book to get you started.
Rocket and ricotta green ravioli with tomatoes and butter
There’s something distinctly fresh and summery about green pasta. Blanching the herbs for the filling keeps their vibrant colour and brings out their flavour. (If you just add raw chopped herbs to the ricotta mixture, you end up with a bitter, oxidised filling.) Ravioli is the easiest stuffed pasta to make a good one to perfect before you attempt cappelletti, tortellini or agnolotti. If you want to buy a pasta machine, Imperia is the best brand. Clamp the machine to your worktop, and when you shape your pasta, do so on a large chopping board or wooden table top – the texture will give you a little purchase.
For the pasta dough
- 350g tipo 00 flour
- 25g fine semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 organic egg
- 4 organic egg yolks
- 50g fresh spinach
For the filling
- 80g wild rocket
- 50g basil leaves
- 50g flat-leaf parsley
- 500g ricotta
- 100g parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Sea salt and freshly ground
- Black pepper
- 50g unsalted butter
- 200g datterini (baby plum) or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 basil leaves
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Boil the spinach for 2 minutes, until the stalks are tender. Drain in a colander and push out any residual liquid with the back of a spoon. When the spinach has cooled, squeeze it with your hands until just damp. Roughly chop.
Place all the ingredients for the pasta dough in a food processor. Pulse for 3 minutes until all the ingredients have turned into lots of small balls. If the dough seems too dry, add 1tbsp of water and blend again.
Tip the contents of the processor into a bowl and squeeze the dough together, moulding it into a big ball. Divide the ball into 4, wrap each one in cling film (plastic wrap) and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
Meanwhile, make the filling. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the rocket, basil and parsley for 1 minute. Drain and leave to cool.
When the herbs and rocket have cooled, place them in a clean cloth and squeeze out the moisture. Chop them finely and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Add the ricotta, parmesan and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, then set aside.
One piece of pasta at a time, roll out the dough a little until it will fit through your pasta machine. Starting with the machine on the widest setting, roll out the dough through the machine, then fold it in half and roll it again. Repeat this process 4 times for each quarter of pasta – it makes the pasta more elastic, so it will be much more durable. Then, roll each piece through the machine several times, getting thinner each time until it has been through the thinnest setting.
Transfer the filling to a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle (or simply use a teaspoon). Place 1 sheet of pasta on a work surface lightly dusted with semolina flour to prevent sticking. Work along the sheet, placing blobs of mixture along its length with a 2-finger gap in between each portion. Try to position the blobs in the upper half of the pasta strip so that you have space to fold the pasta over them. Using a pastry brush, brush water in between the portions of filling and on the edge of the pasta. Fold the pasta sheet over the filling, and use your fingertips to push down and seal to create little individual parcels. Cup your hand and push down on the ravioli to remove any unwanted air pockets.
Using a sharp knife, cut between each mound to create your individual ravioli. Place each raviolo on a tray dusted with semolina flour to prevent sticking. Repeat for all the pasta sheets and filling, then set aside for 1 hour before cooking.
When you’re ready to serve, melt the butter in a large, non-stick frying pan over a low heat. Add the tomatoes and tear in the basil. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the tomatoes collapse and become slightly sticky.
Leave to one side to keep warm. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add all the ravioli, dropping them in one by one, and cook for about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the ravioli and add them to the pan with the tomatoes, butter and basil. Add a ladleful of the cooking water and swirl the pan to coat the pasta in the sauce. Serve immediately on warmed plates, sprinkled with parmesan and black pepper.
Roasted Italian sausages with borlotti beans and ’nduja sauce
Dried borlotti beans from the protected area of Lamon, in the Veneto, are the finest dried borlottis available. You don’t have to use these specifically, of course, but if you are lucky enough to come across a packet, you are in for a treat. Combined with lovely, flavoursome sausage and the spiciness of ’nduja, they are heavenly. Make sure you have a good bottle of chianti, or other super-Tuscan red wine to drink alongside – it’s essential.
- 250g dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in plenty of cold water
- 2 garlic cloves,1 whole,1 finely sliced
- 1 plum tomato
- 2-3 sage leaves
- 3tbsp olive oil
- 4 Italian sausages
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 100ml red wine
- 400g tomato passata
- 75g skinned ’nduja
- 2tbsp mascarpone
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 200g purple-sprouting, calabrese or long-stem broccoli, cooked and seasoned with olive oil and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to serve
Drain the soaked beans and rinse under cold, running water for a couple of minutes. Place the rinsed beans in a large saucepan and pour in cold water so that the water comes 10cm above the level of the beans. Add the whole clove of garlic, along with the plum tomato and sage leaves. Place over a high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook gently for 40 minutes, skimming off the foam from time to time, until the beans are soft enough to crush to a mash with your thumb. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water. Remove the tomato, sage and garlic and place them in a bowl. Using a handheld stick blender and a little of the bean cooking water, blend to a smooth paste. Add the paste back to the beans and check the seasoning. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas mark 2-3. Heat 2tbsps of olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan on a medium heat. When hot, add the sausages and cook for 5 minutes, turning frequently, until brown all over. Remove them from the pan and set aside, leaving the sausage fat and olive oil in the pan.
Add the celery, sliced garlic, onion and carrots to the pan and cook gently for 5 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the red wine and cook for a further 2 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the passata, cook gently for a couple of minutes, then add the ’nduja and stir well.
Place the sausages on top of the passata mixture and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until the sausages are cooked through. Remove from the oven, dollop over the mascarpone and check the seasoning. Warm the cooked borlotti beans and stir through the remaining olive oil. Place on the table for everyone to help themselves, with some steaming hot purple sprouting broccoli served alongside.
Black truffle frittata with chestnut mushrooms, ricotta and spinach
You can serve this frittata hot or cold – try cutting it into small pieces to serve as a canape. The truffle is optional, but it really does elevate the dish.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 500g (1lb 2oz) chestnut mushrooms, cut into 5mm (¼in) slices
- 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
- ½ tsp thyme leaves (not lemon thyme)
- Juice of ½ unwaxed lemon
- 1tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 500g (1lb 2oz) spinach leaves
- 8 organic eggs, well beaten
- 2tbsp whole milk
- 100g parmesan, finely grated
- 150g ricotta
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Black truffle shavings, to serve
For the lamb’s lettuce with shallot and vinegar dressing (to serve)
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 2tbsps red wine vinegar
- 3tbsp good olive oil
- 100g lamb’s lettuce
Begin the side salad. Mix the shallot with the vinegar, season with salt and pepper and set aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven 210C/190C fan/gas mark 6-7.
Heat 2tbsps of the olive oil in a large, ovenproof non-stick frying pan. When hot, add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme, and season with salt. Cook gently for 10 minutes, until the mushroom liquid has released and evaporated. Add the lemon juice and parsley then transfer to a bowl.
Wipe out the frying pan with some kitchen paper and return it to a medium heat. Add ½ cup of water and the spinach. Stir for a couple of minutes until cooked, then transfer to a colander and press the spinach with the back of a spoon to push out the excess water. Squeeze in a clean cloth to almost dry, then roughly chop. Place in the bowl with the mushrooms. Wipe the pan again, and place back on the heat.
Combine the eggs and milk in a large bowl and add the mushrooms, spinach, parmesan and ricotta, then season. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and pour in the egg mixture. Once the edges start to set, give the pan a shake and place in the oven for about 4 minutes, until the centre of the frittata is firm. Remove from the oven and carefully invert the frittata onto a plate. Sprinkle over a generous amount of black truffle shavings. Add the olive oil to the shallot and vinegar to make a dressing for the lamb’s lettuce. Serve alongside the frittata.
‘The Italian Deli Cookbook’ by Theo Randall (Quadrille, £26) Photography by Lizzie Mayson