Cutting and Shaping Pasta by Hand

Homemade pasta can be cut into many shapes and sizes but the options are limited in comparison to factory made dried pastas. Some shapes and sizes can be cut by hand but many must be formed by the use of a machine and special cutting rollers and dies. Some of the common shapes and sizes that can be created when making homemade pasta and instructions on how to cut them are shown in the information below.

 

Noodles:

After the rolled out pasta sheet has dried for approximately 15 minutes, place it on a lightly floured work surface. Dust the sheet lightly with flour.
 

  • Starting at the end closest to you, fold a 2 to 3 inch strip of pasta up away from you. Continue to fold the strip up away from you until the entire pasta sheet is folded into a flattened roll.
 
 
  • With a sharp knife, cut across the flattened roll to form the width of the desired type of pasta noodle. Cut tagliatelle at ¼ inch; fettuccine at 1/6 to 1/5 inch (slightly less than tagliatelle).
 
 
  • Cut linguine at 1/8 inch; tagliolini at 1/8 inch or less; tagliarini at 1/16 to less than 1/8 inch.
 
 
  • Cut pappardelle at ¾ inch.
 
 
  • Unroll folded noodles and spread out on a lightly floured surface, a floured dish towel or hang over the back of a chair on a floured dish towel. Allow them to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The drying period will allow the noodles to firm up slightly and help prevent them from sticking to each other.

 
Lasagne / Cannelloni / Pappardelle:

After the rolled out pasta sheets have dried for approximately 15 minutes, place one on a lightly floured work surface.
 

  • Using a knife or fluted pastry wheel, square off the edges so you have a sheet of pasta that is a suitable size for the size sheets you will be cutting. A sheet approximately 9 x 13 works well for 3 x 13 inch strips of lasagne and a 7 x 10 inch sheet works well for 3 1/2 x 5 inch rectangle lasagne sheets.
   
 

For various pasta types, cut according to steps shown below for lasagne, cannelloni, and pappardelle.
 

  • Lasagne (strips): Lasagne can be cut several different ways. It can be cut into long strips or rectangle shapes. Strips are generally cut 3 to 3 ½ inches wide by 13 inches long. A fluted pastry wheel is used to create a wavy edge, but a knife can be used if a straight edge is desired.
   
 
  • Lasagne (rectangle sheets): The rectangle lasagne pieces are generally cut to approximately 3 ½ x 5 inches or 4 x 6 inches, using a knife to create a straight edge. When deciding on what size to use, consider the size of the baking dish that you will be using and use a size that will work best for the dish.
   
 
  • Cannelloni: Cannelloni can be cut in the same manner as the rectangle shaped lasagne. Cut to a size best suited to your baking dish, generally cut to approximately 3 x 4 or 4 x 4 inches
  • Pappardelle: Pappardelle can be cut as instructed "Noodles" or it can be cut in strips from the flat sheet of pasta. Pappardelle is cut into ¾ inch wide strips. They can be cut with a knife or a fluted pastry wheel. A ruler can be used to assist in keeping the strips straight and consistent in width.
   


 

  • Spread the pasta out on a lightly floured surface or a floured dish towel. Dust the pieces with flour and allow them to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The drying period will allow the noodles to firm up slightly and help prevent them from sticking to each other.

 

Farfalle:

After the rolled out pasta sheet has dried for approximately 15 minutes, place it on a lightly floured work surface.
 


 
  • Farfalles are cut from pieces ranging from 1 ½ to 2 ½-inch squares. Using a ruler to assist in maintaining consist size pieces, cut the desired size squares from the sheet of pasta using a straight or fluted pastry wheel. If cutting 2 inch squares, first cut sheet into 2 inch strips.

 
  • Cut across strips at 2 inch intervals to form 2 inch squares.

 
  • Cut squares in half to form 1 x 2 inch rectangles.

 
  • Pinch rectangles together in the middle of the long side using your thumb and forefinger to form butterfly or bow tie shapes. If shapes do not hold, moisten fingers and pinch again.
  • Spread the pasta out on a lightly floured surface or a floured dish towel. Dust the pieces with flour and allow them to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The drying period will allow the pasta to firm up slightly and help prevent them from sticking to each other.

 

Quadrucci:

After the rolled out pasta sheets have dried for approximately 15 minutes, place a sheet on a lightly floured work surface.
 

  • Stack the remaining sheets on top. Lightly dust each layer with flour before placing the next layer on top. Then cut the stack of pasta sheets in 4 inch strips, cutting through all layers with a sharp knife.
 
 
  • Cut across the 4 inch wide strips to create 4 inch strips that are the width of the size square you desire. The most common sizes used for quadrucci pasta are 3/8, ½, and ¾ inch squares. If you want ½ quadrucci, cut the strips ½ inch wide.
 
 
  • Cut across the 4 x ½ inch strips at ½ inch intervals to produce ½ inch square pasta pieces.
 
 
  • Separate the squares and spread out on a lightly floured surface or floured dish towel. Dust the squares lightly with flour and allow them to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The drying period will allow the pasta to firm up slightly and help prevent them from sticking to each other.
 

 

Fusilli:

After the rolled out pasta sheets have dried for approximately 15 minutes, place a sheet on a lightly floured work surface.
 


 
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pasta sheet into 3 inch strips.

 
  • Cut across 3 inch strips to produce approximately 1/16 x 3 inch strips.

  • Carefully wrap the 1/16 x 3 inch strips around a floured wooden stick. Gently pull the strips off the stick and place on a floured surface. Shapes should look similar to a spring. Let pasta dry before cooking.

 

 

Garganelli:

After the rolled out pasta sheets have dried for approximately 15 minutes, place a sheet on a lightly floured work surface.
 

  • Using a sharp knife, cut the sheet into 2 or 2 ½ inch wide strips. Cut across strips at 2 or 2 ½ inch intervals to form squares.
 
 
  • Starting in one corner of the square, roll the pasta around a floured wooden stick that is ¼ inch or less in diameter. To give the pasta a grooved surface, place the pasta square on a grooved board and roll the square on the wooden stick while applying pressure to form grooves on the outer surface.
 
 

Carefully slide the rolled pasta off the stick. To prevent the pasta from becoming flattened, do not squeeze it as it is pulled off the stick.
 

  • Place the garganelli tubes on a lightly floured surface and allow pasta to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The drying period will allow the pasta to firm up slightly and help prevent them from sticking to each other.
 

 

Maltagliati:

After the rolled out pasta sheets have dried for approximately 15 minutes, place a sheet on a lightly floured work surface.
 


 
  • Lightly dust the pasta sheet and then starting at one end, fold over approximately a 2 inch strip. Continue to fold this end over until you end up with a flattened roll.

 
  • Trim across one end of the strip to create a straight edge. Starting at the straightened edge, cut diagonally to cut off each corner, leaving a pointed end. Cut across the strip, cutting the point off and creating a straight edge again.

 
  • Repeat cutting off the corners diagonally and then the pointed end until the entire strip has been cut up. Do not worry about cutting pieces exactly the same each time. Matagliati means "badly cut" so misshaped pieces are expected.
  • After the pieces have been cut, separate the layers into single pieces and place on a lightly floured surface and allow pasta to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The drying period will allow the pasta to firm up slightly and help prevent them from sticking to each other.

 

Orecchiette:

Orecchiette are generally made from flour and water dough. The flour and water are mixed together and kneaded in the same manner as the egg pasta dough but is not rolled out into sheets.
 

  • After the dough has been kneaded, pull a piece off and roll it in your hands. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface
 
 
  • On the lightly floured surface, begin to roll the dough back and forth using the palm of your hands. Continue to roll until the pasta dough forms a tube approximately 3/8 inches wide. If the dough becomes sticky, lightly flour the work surface and your hands.
 
 
  • Start at one end of the rolled pasta and with a sharp knife cut off pieces slightly less than 3/8 inch thick.
 
 
  • Flour the palm of your hand and place one of the pieces in the center of your palm. Using your other hand, take your thumb and press in the center of the pieces to form a disk shaped pasta. If dough becomes sticky, dust your palm and thumb before using. The shape that is formed looks similar to an ear.
 
 
  • As each piece is formed, place it on a lightly floured surface and allow the pasta to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking. The drying period will allow the pasta to firm up slightly and help prevent them from sticking to each other.
 
 
Orecchiette can be air dried and stored for several months at room temperature. It may take 24 or more hours to dry completely. Cut one open to check for dryness. If you cannot cut it with a knife it is dried sufficiently. If you cut it open and it is still damp in the middle, it requires more drying.
 

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