Recipe: Homemade Pasta Dough

Makes 1 large batch. Enough for at least 150 standard ravioli & more noodles than you know what to do with.


Roll, roll, roll, roll.


My great grandmother, Assunta, made pasta dough with the strength of a hundred Italian sailors. Mom, just a kid then, was not allowed to touch. Instead she was told to sit quietly and watch. She remembers how, as Assunta rolled the dough thinner and thinner, it gradually swallowed up the table and heavy oil cloth covering. Eventually, all you could see was the giant sheet of dough – thin enough for spaghetti, linguine, tortellini or – as was typically the case – ravioli.

I’ll tell you right now… The secret is in the slap. By occasionally slapping the dough down onto the table, the gluten relaxes, making it easier to roll out without springing back. That and generously dusting the dough as you go.


5 cups flour
4 large eggs
water (about 1/3 cup, or as needed)


Find yourself a lovely Italian villa with an outrageously beautiful view.

Valle Slingia, Italy. Photo by Daniel Schwen.

Next, find four fresh eggs. I’m supposing you’d have your own chickens if you lived in Valle Slingia. It just looks like that kind of place. Can you believe this villa is abandoned? Who would do such a thing? *Sigh*

Next, dry your tears and then use the eggs to make a well in the flour.

Crack them into the well and beat them, pulling in a little flour at a time. Some people use a fork, but I like to use my fingertips.

When the mixture turns into a shaggy mass, add a little water at a time until it forms a nice, soft (but not sticky) ball. I almost always use 1/3 cup – sometimes a little more. Knead for a few minutes to bring it together. 

Next, set the dough aside to rest. See how it’s a little bumpy?

After resting for at least 30 minutes (longer is fine – you can refrigerate overnight – then bring back to room temperature before working it), all the bumps will smooth out – it’ll be ready for rolling. It’s like a completely different dough.

Then you can make anything you like. In our family we like ravioli.

Mmm, homemade pasta.

There’s nothing finer.

And I promise you, if you make it you’ll have more friends than houses in Sardinia.

If you’re willing to share.

Sardinia, Italy. Photo by Gzzz.


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  1. This is wonderful to read. Just for comparison, here’s how Chinese people do it. Filmed in a little restaurant in NY Chinatown.

  2. What a great tip to put the whole eggs into the flour to make the well, so that your cracked egg doesn’t overflow the hole… which happens to me sometimes. Thank you so much for sharing Great Grandma Assunta’s secrets!

  3. Now I think you mentioned at one point that Uncle Alfred made a wonderful sauce. I’m betting that that sauce would be good on the ravioli. If so, you should include the sauce recipe when you publish the meal review on Monday, even if you didn’t make the sauce.

    • So is it better with sauce or served without sauce?

      • Sasha Martin says:

        Sorry Brian, I’ve been meaning to write you back. It is good with a little olive oil and parmesan, or marinara sauce or Alfred’s meat sauce. I can’t put that recipe up this round – I just don’t have the time to do it justice.. but one day I’ll share it, promise :)

  4. The name is spelled wrong…should be Asunta and truthfully should be Sunta as the “A” means “to” and somehow got attached..

  5. The name is spelled wrong…should be Asunta and truthfully should be Sunta as the “A” means “to” and somehow got attached…

  6. Janet Goodell says:

    I wish I had bought semolina yesterday…..I have only bread flour and know flour made from durum wheat is better for pasta. It is lower in gluten. ….I was a wheat breeder in grad school and should know better..sigh……


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