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Pasta Dough

Makes 1 lb of pasta (4-6 servings)

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
Pinch of salt (optional)

Sift the flour onto the wooden board and, with your fingers, make a well in the middle of the flour where the eggs can be deposited. Sprinkle the salt around the flour, if desired.

Crack the eggs into the well. With a fork, begin to lightly beat the eggs in the well, slowly incorporating the surrounding flour. Eventually discard fork and begin working the flour and eggs together with your hands.

(A pastry scraper [1] to remove sticky pieces from the board is an invaluable tool here.)

Knead for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic to the touch. (My Italian cooking instructor always said, “If you haven’t broken a sweat, it’s not ready yet!”) Add more flour as needed if the dough is excessively sticky, but be careful not to add too much or the dough will dry out.

When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Return the dough to the lightly floured wooden board and roll out to desired consistency (or use a pasta machine). It’s a good idea to let the pasta dry for several hours before cooking it.