This is a quick little guide on the best place to start if you are completely new to pasta, including equipment you will need, the different flours and the best pasta recipes to start with. Also check out my FAQ page!
'00' flour - is simply a regular flour that has been milled more finely. It is widely available and should be pretty easy to find. Plain flour will work perfectly as a substitute and truth be told you might not notice a huge difference.
Semolina - there are two different types of semolina you will hear me talking about in recipes. The first is semola rimacinata which is a finely milled semolina and the second is course semolina. The course semolina is used only for dusting and lining trays, not for using in doughs. Semola rimacinata is used in the doughs to add structure and bite, I go into more detail in my easy homemade pasta dough recipe. You use this flour for most hand rolled shapes such as my gnocchi sardi and orecchiette.
Eggs - use free range if you can. You will see in my recipes I weigh the eggs. This is a simple and quick step which ensures an evenly hydrated dough. Eggs vary in weight significantly so by weighing them you ensure a perfect dough every time. I crack them one by one into a bowl on my scales until I get the weight I need. This may require cracking an egg into a cup, mixing it up then dribbling it in to make up the weight.
Basic equipment you will need for making pasta
Pasta roller - these come in many varieties and you can get a stand alone roller such as a Marcato or you can get a roller attachment for your kitchen aid if you have one. I most often use the kitchen aid attachment as I don't have a huge kitchen and it works perfectly.
Gnocchi board - this really is a handy tool to get from the start as there are so many shapes you can use it for.
Bench/dough scraper - this is key for me! It is a really inexpensive tool that will make pasta doughs a lot easier for you to bring together. I like to use it to really cut the liquid into the flour in an up and down motion to get an even and shaggy dough.
Kitchen scales - you will need scales to measure your flour and eggs.
The general pasta making routine
No matter what you are making the general routine will be the same.
Rest the dough - You'll see in my dough recipes I do a double rest, once at the start for 10 mins then the normal 30min - 1 hour rest. It makes a huge difference.
Roll the dough - either with a machine to make pasta sheets or hand rolled shapes like orecchiette or gnocchi sardi. Always make sure you have the dough you aren't using wrapped tightly. I always have a tray lined with baking paper and course semolina to place the finished pasta.
Storing - If you aren't cooking the pasta straight away it will be ok on the bench loosely covered for half an hour or so. Any longer pop it in the fridge covered with cling film on a tray lined with baking paper and dusted with course semolina. If it is going to be longer than a day before you cook then get it into the freezer, this is my preferred choice. Freeze the pasta uncovered on a tray until frozen then transfer to a snap lock bag or container and cook from frozen.
Cooking - fresh pasta doesn't take long to cook anything from 2 - 4 minutes.
Heating your plates - this is such a boring but useful tip! Pasta can get cold really quick so I always heat my plates in the oven on really low to warm them up. If you are using bowls a great trick is to put a little splash of water in each one, stack them up and put the stack in the microwave for a minute.
The easiest pasta to start
You might think I am going to throw you straight into a fresh egg pasta dough but I'm not! The easiest shapes to start are hand rolled ones that are made with a flour and water dough. My top two picks for beginners are a gnocchi sardi or pici.
The best sauces to start
You can use any sauce you already know and love but how about trying one of my signature butter sauces. My roasted tomato sauce is a really easy one to try too and if you really want to make my favourite, go for my cacio e pepe.