Saturday, June 23, 2012

Beginner Homemade Pasta Making


The problem with making your own foods is that you regularly discover new things and you realize you can never go back to the package or prepared version. Salsa, guacamole and hummus from scratch beat any store-bought I've tried. Homemade corn and flour tortillas will change your world. And making your own pasta results in something that can barely be described in words.

I'd be lying if I said I no longer use dry pasta, but sitting down to a bowl of it does trigger some feelings of disappointment. The texture, flavor and even the look of homemade pasta is worth getting excited over.

I do shy away from making it from time to time because it feels like too much work, but each and every time I follow through, it's completely worth it.

Ever since I made Hearty Tomato, Kale and Mushroom Sauce I've been meaning to do a pasta post. As you can tell, I'm not a step-by-step blogger. This is mostly because I'm not a step-by-step cook. But it's also because a step-by-step post requires the perfect marriage of a well lit kitchen with the time to stop and photography each step. I rarely have both.

A few weekends ago, I had daylight in the kitchen and the time so I finally documented my pasta making. I was reminded again how much I love this stuff!

Notice that this is a beginner guide. Very, very beginner. I'm still learning, and at times my noodles can be down right ugly. But they still taste good.



A few tips for your pasta making:

  • Be patient. Dough gets stuck, it stretches out. Try, try again. 
  • If you don't have an electric pasta attachment, get a helper. I've made it with a manual machine by myself before and it's doable, but tough.
  • Most books will tell you to avoid flouring the dough too much because it makes it gummy after cooking. I try to limit it, but still find I need to flour to keep it from sticking to the table and the machine.
  • Don't be a perfectionist. Ugly noodles taste good too. 
  • You don't have to have a pasta dryer, you can lay the pasta out to dry, but it helps. 

Pasta dough is simple. Just about every recipe is flour and egg.

In a food processor, combine:

2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 eggs

I've used white whole wheat flour as a substitute and it works well, but results in a dryer dough. 

Pulse until dough resembles peas, and holds together when pressed between your fingers. You can add a half teaspoon of cold water if it is too dry. Continue to add water until it reaches the above state.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until it is smooth, about 2 minutes. Let rest, covered in a sheet of plastic wrap or a damp towel for 15 minutes.


Cut the dough into six equal pieces. Roll those pieces into a ball and flattened into an oval. It's ready for pressing.


Set the pasta maker to the largest setting, meaning the rollers are as wide as they get. 

Slowly turn the crank and feed the dough through. I do this about 3 times on this setting, folding the pasta each time There is no rhyme or reason to my folding sometime I fold end to end, others, horizontally.


Next, take the pasta maker setting down two notches. This is as far as I go, feel free to make if thinner. Feed the dough through once. You should end up with a long piece of dough that is just a little shorter in width the an the pasta maker rollers.


Lay the pasta sheets on a floured surface and cover with a damp towel. Continue the process with the remaining five pieces of dough.


The next step is to cut the pasta and this is where help comes in handy. Choose the cut you would like based on your maker. I always make fettuccine. I've tried spaghetti, but it got stuck in the maker so I stick with what works.


Turn the handle to feed the pasta sheet through the cutter and gently catch and pull the noodles from the other side.


Place the noodles on a drying rack. This is where you can pull apart some that stuck together and spread it out evenly to dry.


Repeat with the remaining sheets.

I know that you can freeze fresh pasta, but every time I make it, it goes straight to the pot. I let it dry for about 15 minutes while the water comes to a boil.

I use a large pasta pot with the inset colander. Bring the water to a boil, salt if it's your thing, and add the pasta. 


Don't stir the pasta right away to keep from breaking it up. After it has cooked about 2 minutes and it's almost done, I use tongs to separate it a bit and make sure all of it has been sufficiently dunked in the water. The pasta should be done in 3-4 minutes.



Drain and serve. Makes about 1 pound to serve 4. 

Need more ideas for what to top it with? These are a few of my favorite pasta recipes, and homemade pasta can easily be substituted for any type.



9 comments:

Katie D. said...

Lori, this is a great post! Beginner or not, I love seeing how this is done the old-fashioned way. I have some Italian blood running through my veins and I can just imagine my grandmother and great-grandmother making their pasta from scratch. Love it!

Candy said...

I love homemade pasta! Thanks for the great tips.

Jenn said...

Noodle making is a tradition in my fiance's home. A couple years ago, we got a pasta maker for Christmas. We take it out a couple times a year to make the noodle for chicken noodle soup. It's a lot of work to make pasta when a box of dry pasta is only $1 or so. But nothing beats fresh pasta!

emily (a nutritionist eats) said...

Thank you for this post - I'm ashamed to admit that we have a pasta attachment for our mixer and have not yet made pasta. It is very intimidating, but I imagine the outcome completely makes up for it! Now I know - I can do it! :)

JulieD said...

Wow, I have been scared to make pasta & you have out me at ease. Your pasta is absolutely beautiful!!

Lori said...

Katie D - Thanks so much! My family never made pasta in the Italian way, but my mother and great grandmother did noodles for chicken and dumplings.

Candy - It's so good!

Jenn - I agree, you can't beat it!

Emily - Yes! Get that baby out of the box! :)

JulieD - Thanks so much. It can be an awkward process, but it's really not hard. I hope you'll try it!

Juliana said...

Wow Lori, homemade pasta...it sure look great!

Bettina Simpson said...

Homemade are simply the best. I love cooking too and I know how satisfying it is to cook good foods and be appreciated. Though as much as I would love to keep on doing it, I simply can't ever since I moved in to my new apartment. The kitchen is too small and it requires kitchen exhaust cleaning every time I do heavy cooking (like if there's an occasion).

Felicity Reynolds said...

There's something about homemade goodies that just make you look at yourself and say, 'Wow, I did this." I did this during a first date and I wound up with the love of my life! You definitely reap what you sow!