Three Easy Pasta Shapes You Can Make With Your Hands
At its most basic level, pasta making is simply the process of adding liquid to a mound of flour, then smashing, twisting, rolling, or folding that dough into any shape you like. The sky’s the limit. Here you can learn how to make a few classics. Each shape gets a little more complex, starting with the super easy pici and graduating to the slightly trickier trofie. We’ve even suggested a few sauces to dress up your creations.
Keep in mind when making this style of pasta that it’s their imperfections which make them marvellous. A little bump or ridge here and there only helps whatever sauce you’re using cling onto your pasta for dear life. Embrace the weird and wonky shapes. Before you start, make sure you’ve got a large clean workspace. A clean kitchen countertop or big wooden chopping board is perfect.
This pasta dough is as simple as they come but really delivers on texture, boasting a uniquely satisfying chew.
To make enough dough for two people, tip 160g of fine semolina onto your work surface, using a bowl create a well in the middle of the semolina. Fill semolina volcano with 75ml of warm water. Using a fork, begin mixing the semolina into the water gradually until you have a thick paste. Now, using your hands, incorporate the rest of the semolina to form a shaggy dough.
Knead for 5 minutes until the surface is smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and rest the dough under an upturned bowl for 15 minutes. Your dough is now ready to roll.
TIP – If you want a glowing ball of yellow dough, that more closely resembles egg pasta, steep a pinch of saffron in your warm water for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the saffron and add the water to your semolina.
Pici, the epitome of rustic Italian simplicity and by far the easiest of all pasta shapes to master. Try your pici with crème fraîche, freezer peas, lemon, rocket and plenty of parmesan.
To roll pici, make sure your surface is free of any semolina. Cut your dough ball into 8 roughly equal pieces, then cut each piece into 3 lengthways. Using both hands, roll each piece into a rope about 30cm long and just under 0.5cm thick. Congrats, you’ve just made pici! Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Similar in shape to gnocchi, cavatelli are chewy little pillows of dough. We like to toss them in a quick white fennel sausage ragù before finishing with green olives and oregano.
Cut your dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope around 1cm thick. Line up the ropes and cut into 2cm pieces. Using your thumb, press into the middle of each piece and roll away from you, creating a curl in the middle of the pasta. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
TIP – You can roll these on different surfaces to create textured cavatelli. Try a fork, gnocchi board, cheese grater or even a piece of lego. Get creative!
Think of trofie as a hand-rolled fusilli; gorgeous spirals of dough that cling onto any sauce you throw at them. Trofie are a little trickier to master and take a bit of practice but, remember, even less than perfect trofie are still delicious.
Trofie is traditionally served with Ligurian basil pesto and green beans, however, a wintery cavolo nero pesto fits the bill for a Winter evening. Pinch off a marble-sized piece of dough and place it on your work surface. Using the palm of your hand, roll that piece of dough forwards, forming it into a sausage shape. Now, draw your hand backwards, dragging the outside edge of your palm over the sausage whilst applying a little pressure. The dough will twist and turn into a beautiful little spiral. Repeat with the rest of your dough.