These Incredible Italian Grandmas Teach you to Make Pasta from Scratch
Shaping pasta by hand takes skill and experience! Watch these Italian grandmas shape pici, tagliatelle, cavatelli, and orecchiette.
Pasta videos are one of my favorite things on the internet. To be specific, the making and shaping of pasta using traditional ingredients and methods. There are all sorts of videos out there, and pasta enthusiasts on all the different platforms, but I love watching Italian grandmas (nonnas) the most. I'm going to highlight a handful of favorite pasta videos here, and let these Italian grandmas show us how it's done.
I also want to mention a channel on You Tube, Pasta Grannies, because it's an absolute treasure trove of pasta videos by Vicki Bennison. I've embedded a few favorites episodes down below, definitely poke around the archives as well. There's also some great inspiration at #pastamaking, and Miyuki Adachi is one of my all-time favorite Instagram accounts. Let me know in the comments if you have any favorites in this vein as well, I'm always adding to my list!
Pici(!!!) Pici is my first pasta love, and my favorite pasta to shape by hand. You roll out long spaghetti-shaped noodles across a countertop, and because you're doing it by hand the shape is beautifully irregular and rustic. I thought my pici game was respectable until I came across this Tuscan grandma. Around the :50 second mark of this video, she shows us who's boss.
Trofie is the most recent shape I've tried to master. To make these tiny coils, some people wrap the pasta dough around a thin needle or umbrella spoke. I don't have the patience for that (I'm so slow), and always resort to something more like this. Look at her outside-the-palm technique!
3. Fusilli Ricci
Proof that making fresh pasta keeps you strong! A beautiful portrait of nonna Maria at 86 years old making fusilli ricci.
Nonna Elena makes beautiful tagliatelle here, and make you think you can ditch your pasta machine for a pasta board and mattarello rolling pin. If you watch carefully, you get a sneak peek into her refrigerator too :).
I visited Puglia years ago, and could watch the ladies make traditional orecchiette (little ears) for hours. In this video we see an orecchiette master at work, but don't look away, because at the 2:00 minute mark, she goes big.
The shaping of the cavatelli kicks in around the 2:00 minute mark here. I remember meeting some of these ladies when I travelled to Puglia years ago.
7. Sicilian Maccheroni
One more from the Pasta Grannies series. Filmed in Menfi, Sicily, I love this video for a hundred reasons. Watch Damiana and Gaetano make an incredible fava bean pasta lunch. Her knife skills are the best, the fresh from the garden favas(!), the sunny patio(!), Damiana's fruit and berry tablecloth!
8. Miyuki Adachi
Not a nonna, but I suspect you'll love Miyuki nonetheless. I found her on Instagram, and love watching her video shorts and pasta shaping demonstrations from Toronto. This is a video of some of what you'll find her working on. As you can see, her trofie game is quite strong as well! (Follow Miyuki)
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I have been a fan of Pasta Grannies for a couple of years now. I have learned so much. And OMG the documentation of all these pastas is incredible as the grandmas are funny, sweet, cranky, and opinionated.
Aren't they fantastic? This series is such a treasure!
Such fun - my mother in law and her family still make pasta by hand, so I shared this blog post...I'm sure they will have their own way of doing these
What they said (so much better than I can.) Plus - who knew? - this must be why there is You Tube.
Oh Heidi - thanks so much for introducing me to the pasta grannies - I was completely mesmerised watching these videos. This reminds me a lot of living in Italy and watching my ex-boyfriend's sister prepare tagliatelle for the entire family. It is how I learned that while a 'nice to have' a pasta machine is not necessary for homemade pasta (and also that duck egg pasta is a thing of beauty). This has motivated me to put some homemade pasta on the agenda again.
What a delight! You have brightened a lot of people's days with this post I'm sure. They make it look so accessible and simple. I might even try it, since I am a Granny myself!
What a magnificent post! thank you very much to show all this marvelous videos together.
I inherited my (Italian) grandmother's pasta board almost 10 years ago. My wife (not Italian) pulled it out to use as a cutting board for vegetables last week. I asked, "what are you doing with my pasta board when we have other cutting boards for vegetables?" Before putting it back, she replied, "It is made out of wood and large. What, there are different boards? They all look alike". Seeing these videos and all of the boards put to use for pasta reminded me of watching my grandmother and the aunts making it for our Sunday family meals in her small, cramped, hot kitchen when I was a child. It brought back many nice memories... and reminded me that it has been a while since I made some. Perhaps this Sunday, homemade pasta and wine!
OMG this is the cutest!!! that tagliatelle is AMAZING, and i do love orecchiette. THANK YOU, Heidi xx
Heidi..this just made me smile from ear to ear...I could watch these Nonnas all day working their magic with their hands and hearts! Love the joy and pride you see in their faces. I still remember staying in a small bed and breakfast near Napoli years ago and the lady of the house prepared lunch for us. From picking the ripe tomatoes and the fresh basil from her garden to making the sauce and using her own olive oil and fresh grated cheese, I was completely in a trance. I still can see myself sitting there enjoying every morsel..it wasn't just the great food, it was the whole ritual of the moment that stays with me..still the best pasta I had with a simply made tomato and olive oil sauce made with the best ingredients and a whole lot of love! Am a fan of the videos now and will watch them regularly! :-)
Oh my goodness, these videos made me immeasurably happy. What a great pause in my day. This is wonderful. Thank you for introducing me to Pasta Grannies. I love learning new stuff and finding new inspirational sources. Thanks again.
Ooh, these videos make me wIsh I had a video of making pasta with a friend's mamma outside Mazara del Vallo two summers ago, making gnocculi con pesto alla Trapanese, following her nonna's recipe for this beautiful hand shaped pasta.
This is one of my favorite things ever! Thank you so much for sharing! I love watching grannies from any culture work their magic in the kitchen.
Oh Heidi. You made my day! I'm crying from all the granny love. Thank you so much for sharing this and introducing me to such a treat! Oh, to understand the priceless treasure we have in our elders. Such beautiful artistry. Such rich heritage. Thank you, thank you, thank you! xoxo
Heidi, Italian pasta making is hypnotizing to watch. My great grandmother would enthrall me as a child with her exacting science and variety of pasta. A great art. Thank you for reminding me. It figures a connoisseur like yourself would also appreciate this gift.
These are gold! They remind me of my own (not Italian) grandma, who used to make pasta by hand. Making pasta was on my kid's bucket list this summer, and pulled it off brilliantly (and all alone), just following a recipe. Fettucini one day, sweet potato-sage gnocchi another.