Homemade Saffron & Squid Ink Pasta
STEP 1: Making the pasta dough
1. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface and use your fist to make a well in the center.
2. Break the eggs into the well. Add the oil and a pinch of salt to the well. If you’re coloring your homemade pasta dough, you’ll want to add the ingredient now. (See How To Color Homemade Pasta Dough below.) Gradually mix the egg mixture into the flour using the fingers of one hand, bringing the ingredients together into a firm dough. If the dough feels too dry, add a few drops of water; if the dough feels too wet, add a little more flour. Don’t worry, you’ll soon grow accustomed to how the dough should feel after you’ve made it a few times.) Kindly note that you don’t want to add too much flour or your pasta will be tough and taste floury.
3. Knead the pasta dough until it’s smooth, 2 to 5 minutes. Lightly massage it with a touch of olive oil, tuck the dough in a resealable plastic bag, and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The pasta will be much more elastic after resting than it was before.
STEP 2: Use a pasta machine
4. Feed the blob of pasta dough through a pasta machine set on the widest setting. As the sheet of pasta dough comes out of the machine, fold it into thirds and then feed it through the rollers again, still on the widest setting. Pass the pasta through this same setting a total of 4 or 5 times. This takes the place of kneading the pasta dough and ensures the resulting pasta is silky smooth.
5. Pass the sheet of pasta dough through the machine again, repeatedly, gradually reducing the settings, one pass at a time, until the pasta achieves the desired thickness. Your sheet of pasta dough will become quite long—if you have trouble keeping the dough from folding onto itself or if you are making ravioli, cut the sheet of dough in half and feed each half through separately. Generally the second-from-last setting is best for tagliatelle and the last setting is best for ravioli and any other shapes that are to be filled.
6. After the sheet of pasta dough has reached the requisite thickness, hang it over a broom handle or the back of a chair to dry a little—this will make cutting it easier in humid weather, as it will not be so sticky. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can dust the pasta with a little flour and place it on clean kitchen towels and let it rest for just a short spell.
7. Shape the pasta by hand (see instructions below) or pass the pasta through the chosen cutters (tagliolini, tagliatelle, etc.) and then drape the cut pasta over the broom handle or chair back again to dry just a little, until ready to cook. (Alternatively, you can toss the cut pasta again lightly in flour—preferably semolina flour—and lay it out in loose bundles on a tray lined with a clean kitchen towel.) Use the pasta as soon as possible before it sticks together or place it in a resealable plastic bag and stash it in the freezer.