I do not have an Italian grandmother. In fact, I never really knew either of my grandmothers when I was growing up, and my mother’s favorite dinner was reservations, so learning how to cook has been an effort in trial, error, and ordering pizza.
If you are going to cook a meal that involves pasta, you really should learn how to make your own. I say this with a proviso - if you are going to make your own pasta, you will want some additional tools for your kitchen, so if you are going to make pasta, you are investing in more than just one or two meals because the tools are a couple of hundred dollars initially. You can do all of this by hand of course, but it will take a lot more time.
For this recipe, we will look at how I make the dough. I have used this dough recipe successfully for both fettuccine as well as other noodle shapes. The key to this is the flour, and if you are going to make pasta, you really should try and get the flour. This recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour Pasta Flour Blend, available from King Arthur Flour. The key to good pasta dough is the flour, specifically semolina, all-purpose, and high-protein, finely milled "00" flour. You can find this in some grocery stores and some specialty stores. Or you can order it directly from King Arthur.
3 cups of pasta flour
4 large eggs
2 to 4 tbsp water
extra flour for the work surface
Place the flour in a food processor, bread machine, or bowl. Mix in eggs all at once. Knead, adding only enough water to form a smooth dough. Form dough into a rectangle, about 1” thick, wrap well and rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, cut off a chunk, flour both sides of the dough and run it through a pasta machine on the thickest setting. Repeat the process, flouring as necessary. Repeat the process, flouring as necessary and gradually reducing the setting until the desired thickness is reached.
Cut into shapes and toss with flour to prevent sticking. Hang in individual strands or arrange in small nests and allow to dry.
To cook: Boil 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add pasta and cook for 2 to 4 minutes until pasta is still slightly firm. Fresh pasta cooks quickly. Drain and toss with oil or sauce.