I love pasta. Sometimes, I feel like I’m secretly an Italian grandma, trapped in a 21 year old Asian boy’s body. Just kidding. That sounds weird as fuck. But anyways, I love making pasta from scratch. It is such a huge stress reliever, kneading the dough, and as a runner, I love my carbs, so pasta fits the bill perfectly. The science of making pasta starts with gluten. Gluten is basically what makes the flour form a dough, and in this case, it’s what makes pasta have that elastic texture and wholesome chew. To make gluten, you need to take a flour such as all purpose, 00, or semolina, and add water or a whole egg to that. This causes the glutens from the flour to unravel and reconnect, causing the flour to begin sticking together, as you keep mixing. Each flour that I listed has a different property.
All purpose (AP) flour is my typical go-to for pasta, because it’s the most accessible flour, and it’s the easiest to work with, yielding softer doughs that are more kneadable.
00 flour is typically what a lot of chefs use to make their doughs. It gives you a more elastic dough than AP, and as a result, a chewier pasta, which is most cases, it’s more appealing. But 00 is also a specialty ingredient, so it’s good for making pasta, but not much else, which is why I prefer semolina or all purpose flour.
Semolina flour is my go-to for vegan pastas, as it has such a high gluten content that you don’t need to add eggs to bind the dough or give it that pasta-yellow color. It can also be used to make a variety of cakes, and has a corn-like texture in almost all non-pasta applications.
For an AP dough, my recipe would be:
2/3 cups flour + more for kneading and rolling
This makes enough dough for two people. To make it, you start with a well of flour in a bowl, and then you add in the beaten egg. Mix the flour into the egg continuously, until it thickens. Using your hands, knead in the remaining flour. Then on a floured surface, knead the dough until it’s smooth. Then, using a lightly floured rolling utensil, roll out your dough into the desired thickness. If desired, you can substitute the 00 flour with AP flour in this recipe, and it will still work.
For semolina flour, I use a basic ratio of:
1 cup semolina flour + additional AP flour to dust with
1/4 cup water
In this recipe, you don’t even need to make a well. Simply combine the two and the semolina flour will thicken on it’s own. You still need to knead (no pun intended because I’m a heartless bastard), but the general consistency of a semolina dough will be dryer than an AP one, so keep that in mind when you’re kneading it. That being said, this dough is vegan, so that is a huge upside, although this dough is almost definitely lethal to anyone who is allergic to gluten, as semolina has one of the highest gluten-contents of any flour.
Fresh pasta of any kind of flour normally cooks anywhere from 30 seconds (thin noodles) to 2-3 minutes (filled pasta) to 5 minutes (orecchiette).