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The Complete Guide to Making Fresh Semolina Pasta at Home | Homemade Pasta Recipe

When most people think of “fresh pasta,” they imagine the much-vaunted egg fresh pasta. We love pappardelle as much as the next foodie (and you can check out our guide to making it here), but we’re also sad that so few people are aware of the other major category of homemade pasta: semolina pasta. Here’s everything you need to know about semolina pasta, plus how to make it in your own kitchen!


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The Complete Guide to Making Fresh Semolina Pasta at Home | Homemade Pasta Recipe

Watch the Pasta Grammar video:



What Is Fresh Semolina Pasta?


Semolina pasta is, quite simply, pasta made with semolina flour and water. No egg at all! It uses the same two ingredients that you’ll find in “normal” dry, store-bought pasta: spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, farfalle, etc. The only difference is that (unless you intentionally dry it, which you can do), the pasta remains moist when you cook it and is therefore fresh.


So why make semolina pasta if it’s the same ingredients as what you can buy in a store? For starters there are a ton of great shapes you can make that are difficult, if not impossible, to buy in a store. Even if you can buy it, having complete control over the ingredients and process is why making your own will always be better than premade.


That being said, many familiar pasta shapes can only be made using an extruding machine, in which case the best option is to visit a shop. Ever thought about making bucatini at home? Forget about it.



Semolina Pasta vs. Egg Pasta


So what’s the difference between fresh semolina pasta and fresh egg pasta? The most obvious difference, of course, is the use of water vs. eggs. Beyond that, egg pasta is usually made with 00 or all-purpose flour instead of the much coarser semolina flour.


In the end, semolina pasta dough is much firmer than egg dough, which is why it’s suitable for making shaped pasta. Egg fresh pasta is mostly confined to thin sheets (like lasagna) and ribbon pasta (like tagliatelle) because of its softer, more delicate texture.


Essential Tips for Making Semolina Pasta Dough


The basic rule of thumb is to use 100 grams of semolina flour and 50 grams (or milliliters) of water per serving. This is a good starting place, but be aware that environmental factors can hugely skew the ratio. We live in a very dry climate so we have to use much more water. Start with this basic formula, and adjust as needed. If your dough is dry and crumbly, sprinkle some water on top and keep kneading until it comes together. If your dough is too soft and sticky, simply dust it with extra flour.


The final result should be a dough that isn’t sticky and is quite firm. If it’s too soft, it will be difficult to shape. In general, we advise aiming for a texture that errs on the side of being too firm, rather than too soft.

If you find it tricky to shape the pasta, such as when rolling a strand beneath your palms, try moistening your hands with a few drops of water.


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What Kind of Shapes Can You Make with Semolina Pasta Dough?


There are, frankly, too many options to fully enumerate! This is partly because you can make just about any shape that can be moulded, although it’s best to stick to pieces with uniform thickness so that the pasta cooks evenly. Some of the best and most popular shapes include orecchiette, busiate, and cavatelli. Below we’ll share the methods of making each of these.


How to Use Semolina Pasta


Once you’ve made the pasta, what’s next? You can cook it right away, or you can freeze it for later (just like you would with egg fresh pasta you wanted to save for a future meal). To freeze it, arrange the shaped pasta pieces on a floured tray so that none of the pieces touch each other. Freeze the tray until the pasta is solid, then you can transfer it into a bag or other container for convenient frozen storage. Boil frozen pasta directly from the freezer. No need to thaw, just be aware that it will take 1 or 2 minutes longer to cook.


Unlike egg fresh pasta, semolina pasta is very easy to dry. All you have to do is leave it out for a day or two on a tray! Once the pasta is completely dry, you can store it just like you would store-bought pasta and it will last for months in your pantry. Be aware that dried pasta has a much longer cook time than fresh pasta. It will take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes to cook, depending on its thickness.


How to Cook Fresh Semolina Pasta


Semolina pasta can be boiled just like any other pasta. The only difference is that, if it’s fresh, it will cook much faster than dry pasta. Depending on the thickness it will take anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. Because homemade pasta doesn’t come with instructions, it’s important to taste the pasta as it cooks and drain it once it’s “al dente” to your taste.



FRESH SEMOLINA PASTA DOUGH RECIPE


Makes: 4 servings

Cook Time: 1 ½ hours


For this recipe, you will need:

  • 400 grams semolina flour, plus extra for dusting

  • 200 ml water, plus extra if needed


On a large work surface, pour the flour into a pile and use your fingers to hollow out the center so that it resembles a volcano. Pour the water into the hollow. Using your finger or a fork, stir the water and gradually incorporate the surrounding flour. When the mixture has thickened into a paste, you can begin folding in more of the flour and kneading the developing dough by hand.


As you knead the dough, gradually continue to incorporate the remaining flour on the work surface. You don’t need to add it all, though: different flours in different conditions absorb varying amounts so you might need less. Simply leave some flour aside if you achieve the right dough texture before it’s all kneaded in. The pasta dough should be firm, but soft enough to knead smooth. It definitely shouldn’t be sticky. If it does become sticky, simply dust the dough with more flour as needed. Alternatively, if your pasta dough is too dry and crumbly you can drizzle some extra water and top and knead it in.


Knead the pasta dough until it is smooth and even. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.


Cut about ¼ of the dough off and keep the remainder wrapped in plastic to prevent it from drying out. Proceed to form this portion into the shape of your choice (see below for some suggestions). Generously dust a large baking sheet with flour and arrange the finished pieces there, being careful to prevent them from touching. Repeat with the remaining dough, working in batches and keeping unworked dough wrapped up.



How to Make Orecchiette


Roll a small portion of dough underneath your palms into a thin snake or strand—about the width of your pinky finger. Cut the strand into 1 inch (2.5 cm) segments.



Take a single segment and press the edge of a butter knife (held parallel to the piece) into the edge farthest from you. Firmly roll the pasta piece toward you, as if you’re trying to smear the dough like butter on toast.



The pasta piece will curl up as you do so. Gently turn it inside out on the tip of your finger to form a slightly convex disc.


How to Make Cavatelli


Roll a small portion of dough underneath your palms into a thin snake or strand—about the width of your pinky finger. Cut the strand into 2 inch (5 cm) segments.



Press two fingers into the center of a piece and firmly roll it back to create a deep depression in the pasta.


How to Make Busiate


Roll a small portion of dough underneath your palms into a very thin snake or strand—about half the width of your pinky finger. Cut the strand into 5 inch (12.5 cm) segments.



Gently press the tip of a shish kabob skewer into one end of a pasta segment, so that the pasta strand lies at a 45° angle from the skewer, Use your palm to roll the skewer forward so that the pasta spirals around it. Gently press down as you do so to flatten the pasta slightly. Carefully pull the skewer out.


If you want to try some other fresh pasta, check out our complete guides to egg fresh pasta and potato gnocchi!



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Dominique René Bernard
Dominique René Bernard
Jan 05

Made my own today! Thank you so much for explaining the difference between egg pasta and these!

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