Fresh pasta is extremely easy to make, and noodles you make yourself are so much more delicious than the store-bought alternatives. You can make noodles entirely by hand the traditional way or let a food processor and pasta machine do most of the work. Most noodles are made with flour, eggs, salt, and water. Some people use milk instead of the water because they feel it makes for a more tender noodle. Some recipes also add a bit of olive oil to the liquid amount. I always use the following egg noodle recipe… it makes really wonderful noodles using only the four ingredients listed below. You can replace some or all of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour, but realize that 100% whole wheat noodles will have a heavier texture. I like to use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour.
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
Making pasta by hand:
Measure the flour (sift it first) and pour it out onto a plate or board. I like to use a plate because it is easier to clean! Make a well in the center of the flour. Mix the egg and egg yolks together, add the water and salt, and pour the egg mixture into the well in the flour. Using a fork or your fingers, start drawing small amounts of the flour into the center egg yolk mixture. Continue mixing and drawing in more of the flour until all of the eggs and flour are mixed together and have formed a stiff but very workable dough. The ingredient amounts given above have always worked well for me without any adjustments, but if you find that your dough is too stiff to be easily workable, add a little more water or another egg yolk, but be careful not to add so much that the dough becomes too soft. Once the dough has formed a ball, knead it for several minutes until it becomes smooth and glossy. Cover the dough ball with a towel and let it rest for about five minutes.
Making pasta an easier way:
Put the flour, salt, eggs, and water in a food processor and pulse it until all the ingredients are well combined and you can easily gather the dough together into a ball. I have never seen this method given in an egg noodle recipe, but I do this all the time and it really speeds up the process, and there is absolutely no difference in egg noodle texture or appearance. Knead the dough by hand until it is smooth and glossy. Cover the dough with a towel and let it rest for about five minutes. The resting periods make the dough easier to handle and help to prevent it from tearing.
To continue making pasta by hand:
Divide the ball of dough into four smaller balls and rolling one ball at a time, roll out each one until it is as thin as you can roll it. Keep in mind that the noodles will get thicker as they cook, so you want the dough to be rolled out really, really thin. Try to keep the rolled dough in as rectangular a shape as possible. Dust your rolling surface with small amounts of flour if necessary. This dough is very easy to handle and is not sticky, so you will not need much flour. Repeat the rolling procedure with each of the other three balls. Let the rolled-out dough rest for a few minutes on the floured surface, then cut each rectangle into strips. The traditional method is to roll the dough rectangles up, jelly roll style, and cut slices off the rolls. I find it is a lot easier to cut strips from the flat rolled-out rectangles while they are still on the floured surface. You can use a sharp knife to cut the noodles, but a pizza cutter is quicker and makes it much easier to cut straight strips. Once the noodles have been cut, spread them out to dry on a floured surface or racks.
To continue making pasta the easier way:
Divide the dough into four portions and feed each ball of dough into the pasta machine through the pasta roller with a setting of one, fold the resulting dough sheet in half, and pass it through the roller again. Repeat this process a couple of times. Change the setting to two and pass the dough through the pasta roller again. Continue on in this way, increasing the setting each time, until you get to a setting of five. With my pasta machine, the setting of five makes a sheet of dough the perfect thickness for noodles, but your pasta machine be may slightly different, so experiment and make any needed adjustments. Spread the sheets of dough out on a lightly-floured surface for a few minutes. Usually by the time I have rolled out the last of the four balls, the sheet of dough from the first ball is ready to be cut into noodles. My pasta machine has two thickness choices for cutting, and I usually use the setting that makes the widest noodles and just run the sheet of dough into the cutter rollers. Be ready to gather up the cut noodles as they come out of the pasta machine so you can spread them out on the floured surface or racks.
Fresh pasta can be frozen, dried until it is completely dried and then stored in a tightly-covered container, or it can be cooked fresh. You will find that freshly-made noodles take only a few minutes to cook… test them for doneness as you would a purchased noodle. The yield from this recipe is about ten ounces, or approximately six cups of cooked noodles.