This charmingly thin pasta shape finds its origin in the northwestern Italian region of Piedmont, particularly in the Langhe area, just south of Alba. Referred to by locals as tajarin, this pasta shape has long since been a part of the Piedmontese culinary tradition due to its sumptuous yolk-rich dough which pairs beautifully smoother and slightly thinner pasta sauces, particularly a traditional white truffle sauce made with locally sourced (and highly prized!) ingredients.
Not to be confused with tagliatelle, which although similar, since they both classify as egg pasta cut into ribbons, they are not the same. The clue to their differences are in the name, since taglia means ‘cut’ in Italian, it is indeed the cut of these pasta shapes which differentiates them. Where tagliatelle is traditionally around 3mm thick and 6mm wide, tagliolini is much thinner with a thickness of around 1mm and width of 3mm (ever so slightly thicker than capellini). Additionally, although both fall under the guise of ‘egg pasta’, tagliolini dough traditionally uses only egg yolks (as well as a splash of wine or olive oil for some extra moisture), which ultimately leads us to understand why any Italian would be outraged to refer to these two pasta shapes synonymously! The egg yolks are what give this pasta its indulgent richness and in some restaurants of Piedmont, you will find ‘40 yolk tajarin’ on the menu, signalling to the use of 40 egg yolks per kilo of flour to make the tagliolini (regular egg pasta is around 10 eggs per kilo)! It can also be found in vibrant colours, dyed with natural ingredients such as spinach, tomato and even saffron for an incredible, deep yellow hue.
Prep and cook time: 1 hour
Calories per serving: 416kcal
Rolling pin or pasta machine
Large sharp knife
6 egg yolks
1 tbsp white wine or extra virgin olive oil
200g semolina flour (or 160g semolina flour and 40g 00 flour)
Step 1: Making the Dough
- On a clean wooden board, pile the flour into a mound.
- Make a wide well in the centre of the mound, it must be large enough for all the yolks.
- Pour the yolks into the well, beat the egg mixture with the fork, slowly pulling the flour from the sides of the well until the egg has all been absorbed by the flour. If the dough is still a bit dry, add the olive oil or white wine to loosen.
Step 2: Kneading the Dough
- Clean the work surface of any excess flour or dough bits that weren't incorporated. Then lightly flour your clean work surface.
- Knead the dough by pressing the heel of one hand into the ball, keeping your fingers high.
- Press down on the dough while pushing it firmly away from you. The dough should stretch and roll under your hand to create a shell-like shape.
- Turn the dough over, then press into the dough with your knuckles, one hand at a time. This process should be carried out around 10 times.
- Roll the dough back into a ball and repeat the stretching and knuckling process, using more flour if needed to prevent any stickiness.
- Repeat the process for about 10-20 minutes until the dough is smooth and silky.
- Roll the dough into a smooth ball.
- Wrap the dough in cling film and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 20-30 minutes.
Step 4: Rolling the Pasta
*Due to the thinness of this pasta, it is much easier and quicker to roll out with a pasta machine but, of course it is still possible by hand.
- Lightly flour your surface.
- Shape the dough into a rough circle.
- With a rolling pin, begin rolling the dough as you would with a pastry crust, starting in the centre and rolling away from you to the outer edge.
- Turn the dough a quarter-turn, and repeat, working your way around, until the sheet of dough is 1mm thin. Scatter a small amount of flour on the dough whenever it starts to stick to the surface or the rolling pin.
- According to Italian tradition, the sheet of dough should be transparent enough to read the text beneath, and particularly with tagliolini, its thinness is part of its signature.
Step 5: Cutting the Pasta
- Place one of the rolled-out sheets of pasta dough, now called a sfoglia, onto a clean and lightly floured work surface.
- Roll the dough over itself a few times carefully, ensuring there is enough flour, so it doesn't stick.
- Using a sharp knife, trim the end edges to make it even, then cut into approximately 3mm wide strips.
- Gently lift the pasta strips in the air and place them carefully onto a tea towel, making sure they are separated.
- Repeat with the remaining sheets of dough.
- You are now ready to cook your pasta. If you wish to cook your pasta at a later date, read our ultimate guide on how to store fresh pasta.
Step 6: Cooking the Tagliolini
- Now that you have succeeded in making incredible, fresh tagliolini, you're ready to combine with your sauce of choice!
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a generous amount of salt.
- Add the pasta and cook for 1-2 minutes. *Keep a close eye on it, it cooks very quickly!
- Strain the pasta and mix with sauce (adding a little pasta water if needed). Shave some Parmigiano Reggiano on top (unless it’s a seafood sauce) and enjoy! Buon appetito!
At Pasta Evangelists, we bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen. Prepared using the freshest ingredients, our gourmet pasta dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy restaurant-quality meals, delivered to your door, and ready in under five minutes. Order from our weekly menu today, and we’ll offer you 25% off your first delivery - simply enter the code BLOG25 at checkout.