Fresh Egg Noodles

Pâtes Fraîches aux Oeufs

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

Noodles, the dough of which has been rolled out by hand, well dusted with flour, rolled up, and sliced, have a charm apart, which depends largely on the slight variations of thickness and of width, but also, because the dough is worked less brutally, with greater suppleness, than by the machine, the fresh egg taste is more in evidence—or, in the instance of green noodles, the spinach flavor is cleaner. The quasi-miraculous little Italian pasta machines, however, turn the work into a fantastically effortless, amusing, childlike game, and with a smattering of experience or habit, splendid results may be had (mine bears the trademark “Titania” and is manufactured by the firm “I.P.S.” in Turin; it is commercialized in the United States—as are several others with which I am unfamiliar). I willingly bear witness to the fact that, whereas, in the past, months at a time went by without my preparing fresh pasta, a week never passes now that I do not offer myself or guests fresh egg noodles, my funny little machine doing all the work.

The dough may be firmer for a machine than that which is to be rolled out by hand—and it is easier to work, but less good. It may also, if one is pressed for time, be worked immediately (although it tends to fall apart for the first two or three passages through the rollers during the kneading) rather than being left to relax, but, in that case, it must be kneaded longer before being rolled out thinly, and the result is very like that of commercial fresh pasta. For best results: (1) an “instant-blending” flour is easily superior to others; very fine semolina gives good results also—count about 3 minutes longer cooking time than for noodles made with flour; (2) the dough is much finer if forced in egg yolks—one made only of egg yolks is quite remarkable (count about 5 yolks to a cup of flour and 1 tablespoon of olive oil—soft or melted butter may be substituted); (3) the dough should be fairly supple and it should be left to rest, preferably for a good hour, before being kneaded in the machine; (4) it should be passed through the rollers, set at maximum (kneading) width, only the number of times—4, 5, or 6—necessary to render the sheet absolutely cohesive before being passed through at the desired thickness; (5) the sheets, if rolled out from a supple dough, will be slightly sticky and should be hung (over a broomstick suspended between two chair backs) to dry for 20 or 30 minutes before being passed through the noodle-cutting rollers.

Green noodles are traditional in Niçoise cooking, but they are more often made with parboiled, squeezed chard greens than with spinach as in Italy (2 cups flour; salt; 1 whole egg and 1 yolk; 1 tablespoon olive oil; ½ pound parboiled spinach or chard greens squeezed dry and chopped). The dough needs to be kneaded by hand before being put to rest, flour added as necessary, because of the green stuff’s habit of releasing its moisture progressively; otherwise it is treated in the same way as that for egg noodles. Green noodles are perhaps best understood if served tossed only with grated cheese and butter, a generous amount of pepper ground over—but a pan of tiny zucchini, sliced paper-thin and sautéed over a high flame for 5 or 6 minutes with a couple of crushed cloves of garlic (discarded before serving) in olive oil, may be strewn over the lot without incurring the displeasure of a radical purist.