Pasta Grannies share their secrets for perfect handmade noodles.

By Kelsey Youngman
Updated January 28, 2020
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Victor Protasio

Italian nonnas and their pasta recipes are the subject of writer Vicky Bennison’s video series and new book Pasta Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks. She shares the women’s memories and heirloom recipes, including how to craft perfect pasta at home. Every nonna has her own secrets, specific to the tiny regions throughout Italy. In the north, thick, chewy noodles go with buttery sauces, while in the south, olive oil–based sauces cling to spiral shapes. Wherever on the boot grannies are making pasta, one fact is fundamental: They do it by hand.

Making fresh pasta requires carefully chosen tools and ingredients. A wooden board or tabletop for mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough is key; the porous surface helps control the moisture of the dough. The flour quality and type is also important; its grind and protein content will affect the texture of your noodles.

But most important? Get your hands in the dough and learn by feel. So, gather a mound of flour and crack a few eggs. This basic recipe for fresh egg noodles studded with bright green parsley is a good place to start. Be sure to rest the enriched pasta dough for the full two hours—it is essential to achieve the perfect supple texture. Serve the noodles simply buttered, or see our recipe for Squash-and-Tomato Sugo, courtesy of the nonnas.

How to Make Parsley Egg Noodles

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1. Make a Well

Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and semolina flour on a clean large wooden work surface. Form a 6-inch well in center. Add eggs, egg yolks, parsley, and oil to well.

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2. Form a Batter

Using a fork, beat egg mixture until combined; gradually incorporate flour mixture from inner edges of well into wet ingredients until a smooth batter forms.

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3. Gather Dough

Once batter is too stiff to mix with fork, use hands to work in remaining flour to form a shaggy dough. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed to bring dough together.

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4. Knead and Rest

Knead until dough is smooth, about 10 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature 2 hours. Unwrap dough, and cut dough into quarters. Keep 3 dough portions covered while proceeding with next steps.

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5. Divide and Cover

Unwrap dough, and cut dough into quarters. Keep 3 dough portions covered while proceeding with next steps.

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6. Flatten Dough

Roll 1 dough piece out on floured wooden work surface into a roughly 20- x 12-inch rectangle (about 1/16 inch thick). The dough should be thin enough to read through.

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7. Roll Dough

Lightly dust both sides of dough with all-purpose flour. Starting at 1 long side of rectangle, roll up dough, jelly-roll style, to form a cylinder.

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8. Slice and Toss Noodles

Using a thin, sharp knife, cut dough crosswise into 1/3-inch pieces. With floured hands, unroll dough slices into ribbons, and toss them with 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour.

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9. Finish Noodles

Transfer pasta to a baking sheet dusted with semolina flour; cover with plastic wrap. Repeat steps 6 to 8 with remaining dough and all-purpose flour. Cook immediately, chill in the refrigerator up to 24 hours, or freeze up to 3 weeks.

Find more from the nonnas in Pasta 
Grannies: The Secrets of Italy’s Best Home Cooks by Vicky 
Bennison ($21 at amazon.com)