In honor of National Pasta Day, earlier this week I wrote about kneading dough to make pasta. The next step is rolling out the dough. This is the hardest step of the recipe but it's easier than it looks. It's best to use a long, handle-less rolling pin with a small diameter. Just make sure to have plenty of extra flour on hand and sprinkle it liberally onto your rolling surface and the dough, so the dough doesn’t get sticky. Then it’s all about strength — when you roll, make sure to use not just your arms, but your entire body as you push your rolling pin over the dough.
Step 2: Rolling Out the Dough
It's best to find a rolling surface that is no higher than waist level. I like to use a wooden cutting board with a cloth placed under it so it doesn't slip. Make sure the rolling surface is clean and dry, then dust it with flour. Break off a quarter of the dough to work with, leaving the rest under the damp cloth. Knead the dough briefly, then flatten and stretch it with your hands into an oval shape.
Sprinkle the dough with flour and continue with the rolling pin, forming something that resembles a long rectangle about ¼ inch thick and about a third the width of the pin.
Cut this piece of flattened dough into three equal pieces, crosswise.
Work with each piece separately, placing the other two pieces on a plate sprinkled with flour. Position the cutting board so that it is long rather than wide (in relation to where you are standing). Similarly, the piece of dough you are working should also be long rather than wide.
Beginning with the side of the rectangle that is closest to you, flatten small sections of the dough with the rolling pin in a rapid and forceful motion, rocking back and forth, using both hands. Use the weight of your body to lean into the pin. Pause frequently to sprinkle the rolling surface, the dough, and your pin with flour. It's helpful to mentally visualize the dough in three separate sections. Once you’ve made one section uniformly thin, liberally flour the surface of the dough, then move on to the next section.
Check that it’s uniformly thin (but not paper thin), flattening any thicker sections with the pin. The dough should be slightly longer than the cutting board and about as thick as 5 or 6 pieces of printer paper stacked together.
Check back at the end of the week for the last steps: cutting and boiling the pasta.