January 7, 2017 / In: Pasta Tools & Toys

The Tools and Toys of Pasta Making

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On this page, you’ll find an ever-evolving list of and description of some of the fun toys pasta geeks play with. The links to my recommended products on Amazon are affiliate links; if you enjoy this blog I hope that you’ll consider supporting us by clicking through to make your purchase, which return us a small (~4%) commission on your purchase at no cost to you. Thanks!

#PastaBoard (A big, wooden work surface!)

A big table or board, ideally made of wood, is the most important tool of all for making pasta; it’s literally where the magic happens! Not only is it ideal for kneading and preparing dough, but the grain of the wood often helps lend textures to your pasta as you pull and stretch along the wooden surface. Size matters here. Pasta-making can be messy and space-intensive, so having plenty of room on your surface is key.

My recommendation: For everyday use, a big ol’ reversible board like this 28″ x 22″ board from Tableboard Company works wonderfully. But if you’ve got the space and budget, the dream is probably a nice, butcher block table like this beauty from John Boos.

#BoardScraper

This versatile tool is one of the most well-used in my kitchen. It’s got a ton of uses, like cat-herding flour, cutting dough, and cleaning your board.

My recommendation: Don’t be tempted to get plastic, silicon or anything other than stainless steel. This one from OXO has served me well for several years now.

#RollingPin

As with any vocation involving dough, a good rolling pin has any number of uses in pasta making. Rolling out pasta dough is often a useful step, and sometimes an essential step, in the preparation of many pasta shapes including strozzapreti, pici, and spaghetti alla chitarra.

My recommendation: Personally I far prefer French-style rolling pins—this is the style that’s all one chunk of wood rather than having a separate grip and roller. It’s a lot easier to become one with this kind of pin as you work with the dough, and this style of rolling pin is always inexpensive since the design is so simple. I’ve been happily rocking this eleven-bucker from Alteco for a little over a year and it’s done terrific.

#PastaMachine

The classic pasta rolling machine is the tool that is most often associated with pasta making. While not an essential tool to make any particular shape, it vastly eases the process of making most egg pastas, as the process of rolling dough out with a machine (a.k.a, “laminating”) is a time- and elbow-grease saver over the kneading and pin-rolling that is needed otherwise.

My recommendation: There are a variety of sizes (and price points!) that pasta machines come in, although most home cooks have little need for anything bigger than the standard-sized (150 mm) machine. The indispensable classic is this machine from Marcato Atlas. I bought mine nearly a decade ago and it’s still going strong. But if you’ve got a few bucks to part with and want the Cadillac of hand-cranked machines, try out this beauty from Imperia and tell me how it works.

You can also machines without the crank, if you want it to roll out the dough for ya. One of the most loved is this machine that attaches to KitchenAid stand mixers.

#DoughDivider (A contraption with wheels to cut dough)

For cutting certain shapes, you’ll often want to divide your sheet of dough into equal-width ribbons. You can get by with a knife or a pizza cutter if you need to, but a dough divider works quick and makes it much easier to consistently get straight, equal cuts.

My recommendation: Like dough scrapers, you can find these with plastic pieces. Never buy those. You can get various numbers of wheels—better too many than too few. This five-wheel cutter from Winware has done me right.

#FlutedCutter

Fluted cutters are used to cut the edges of pasta shapes like farfalle, mafalde, or sometimes, ravioli. The cut is sometimes strictly aesthetic, but more often, the cut is an integral part of the pasta shape that determines what sorts of sauces it works with.

My recommendation: There are of course many shapes and sizes that you can get, but something mid-sized is usually versatile enough to handle all your fluted cutting needs. You can get the fluted cutter as a standalone, but often it comes with a flat wheel as well, like this one from Nature’s Kitchen.

#PastaKnife (A knife for cutting and shaping pastas)

For several shapes that are cut and formed at the same time (e.g., cavatelli, orecchiette), having the right knife is absolutely crucial. There’s some trial and error involved in finding the right one, but you definitely want something that ‘s dull and straight-edged (i.e., not serrated), and has a good, comfortable grip.

My recommendation: It’s hard to find a good one, in my experience. Your best bet is likely to scour the housewares sections of thrift stores and buy a few knives that fit the bill at a high level, take them home, and try them out with some pasta. I certainly haven’t found the perfect solution yet…

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