You'll Never Buy Dried Pasta Again After Learning This Hack

Fresh pasta is better than dried — no questions asked. Being the hardcore pasta enthusiast that I am, I've always loved and appreciated homemade pasta . . . but I just can't bring myself to invest in a pricey pasta maker. Up until recently, I thought that was the only way to make pasta from scratch, but it turns out that's not the case. After taking a trip to the motherland (Italy, of course), I learned a few tricks of the trade from the experts behind fresh-pasta brand Buitoni. This method totally transformed how I view fresh pasta, and now I know exactly how to make it at home, no equipment required.

Here's what I learned while wearing an apron and dirtying my hands in a cooking class taught by cookbook author Sarah Fioroni at Fattoria Poggio Alloro in Tuscany. It doesn't get any more authentic than that!

01
Start with eggs, flour, and a clean wooden work surface.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

Start with eggs, flour, and a clean wooden work surface.

The best surface to use is a large, smooth wooden cutting board. Sarah explained that most Italians don't actually use these for chopping, but it's the best surface on which to make pasta dough.

02
The first type of flour you need is all purpose.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

The first type of flour you need is all purpose.

Scoop two heaping handfuls of all-purpose flour onto the board.

03
The second type of flour you need is semolina.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

The second type of flour you need is semolina.

Semolina is a coarser flour and adds texture to the pasta, as well as a slightly more yellow color. To the all-purpose flour, add two scant handfuls of semolina.

04
Next, add the eggs.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

Next, add the eggs.

Combine the flour with your hands, and create a mound with a hole in the center — this is the space for your eggs. Crack two eggs directly into the hole (or "the volcano," as Sarah called it), and begin to gently whisk with a fork. When the yolks are broken and the eggs are fully combined, continue to whisk, allowing the egg mixture to grab bits of flour along the edges, incorporating the flour little by little. This is how your dough will begin to form.

"The secret is to blend little by little or else the dough will become tough," Sarah advised. This step takes time, so don't rush it!

05
Then it's time to knead.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

Then it's time to knead.

When so much flour is incorporated into the eggs that you can no longer whisk with the fork, ditch the fork and use your hands — they're your best tool. Flour your hands so they don't stick to the dough, form the dough into a ball, and knead it on the board using your hands. Add pinches of flour, as needed, so that the dough never sticks to your hands or the board.

06
Roll the dough until it's very thin.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

Roll the dough until it's very thin.

. . . So thin that you could read a newspaper beneath it. Of course, this is where the convenience of a pasta maker comes in, but a rolling pin is completely sufficient. Don't be afraid to put a lot of force behind it, and continue rolling the dough until it spreads out to resemble a pizza crust. This will take about 10 full minutes, and don't worry if your dough doesn't roll out into a perfect circle.

08
The homestretch: form the pasta.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

The homestretch: form the pasta.

You're almost there! When your dough is thin enough, fold the whole thing four to five times, depending on how much dough you have. Once it's folded and there are layers stacked on top of each other (like a letter), cut pasta into strips using a sharp knife.

This is the fun part: you can customize the pasta however you like. To make fettuccine, as shown, cut your strips about 1/2 inch apart. To make spaghetti, cut the dough even thinner. To make pappardelle, a thicker pasta, leave about an inch in between.

10
Unfold the strips, gently lay pasta in a pile, and sprinkle a touch of flour to prevent sticking.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

Unfold the strips, gently lay pasta in a pile, and sprinkle a touch of flour to prevent sticking.

When your pasta is cut, it needs to be dried for at least a couple of hours at room temperature before it's ready to be cooked. After that, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a lot of salt — about two tablespoons — and cook until al dente. Fresh pasta cooks way faster than dried, so you only need to let it boil for about two to three minutes.

11
You can create different shapes by hand.
Milanesi PhotoStudio | Buitoni

You can create different shapes by hand.

There are no set rules, and you can make whatever shapes you like, like farfalle (bow ties) and even filled pastas like tortellini and ravioli. You might not be a pro the first time you try it, but practice makes perfect. And one thing is for sure: great sauce makes pasta even better. So make some authentic tomato sauce to go along with your pasta, and congratulate yourself on cooking like a true Italian.