Hand-made pasta

There is nothing like the chewy deliciousness of thick home-made pasta.  If you’ve never had pasta that didn’t come dried in a box from a store, you are missing out!  Fortunately, there is an easy remedy: Make some!

I’m not Italian, but I have somehow inherited a love for all foods italienne.  If it comes with red sauce over pasta, especially baked with cheese on top, I’m in.  I also realize this fondness adds to my waistline, so I try not to do pasta too often.  One way I stick to that rule goal is by choosing homemade over store-bought. It’s a little more work, but oh, so worth it!

Tonight’s pasta adventures began when I was poking around online and found a pasta drying rack. This one, to be exact. I was in the mood for chewy-salty-hearty-goodness, and had all the ingredients…

Egg – one egg is about 1/3 of a cup.
Flour – one cup gets you close to the right consistency: you want the pasta dough sticky, not dry.
Salt – a pinch
Water – a splash, if you need it, which will depend on your weather, preferences and practice.

wp_20141031_005-2Egg + flour + salt + hands to massage it all together + a touch of water if needed = pasta dough.

Yes, like most other foods, pasta is far easier to make than manufacturers would have you believe.  It’s simple and wholesome and delicious, and you can make it yourself fairly quickly. And it’s fun!  You can do this in a bowl, but traditionally, you put a pile of flour on the rolling surface, mound it up and then crack an egg into a little hollow on the top – think Volcano shape – salt on the egg, and massage away.  Be sure to remove any rings or other jewelry you might be wearing, or you’ll find yourself soaking pasta out of teeny crevices days later.  Go ahead; ask me how I know this!

Once you have mixed together the ingredients and formed your dough, knead it for 3-5 minutes and then let it rest a few minutes.  Usually, this gives me long enough to wash up a bit and put away the various things I’ve pulled out of the cupboards. Or it gives you time to get out and set up your pasta roller.

On a lightly floured surface – say, my kitchen island – roll out your dough ball with a lightly floured rolling pin.  Or a wine bottle works, in a pinch – wrap in saran to keep the label ink from sticking.  Or simply press it flat and thin with your hands.  It’s better to roll so you can get a consistent thickness – or rather thinness – but if not, lumpy homemade pasta is still delicious.

Now, if you have a pasta machine, you get to play with it!  Prepare for multiple passes and readjusting your levers several times until you get what you want.  If you over work your pasta dough it will get a little tougher/rubberier, but really don’t worry.  It will still taste good and you’ll know for next time.  If you don’t have a machine, just roll it out and slice it thin.  A pizza cutter works, or even just a knife.  Aim for keeping the now-noodles the same thickness simply  because consistent size/shape helps cooking consistency.

I use my pasta tree, once I’ve cut my pasta, to keep it from sticking together in a steamy puddle.  Then, in small batches, drop it into rapidly boiling salted water.  When it floats to the top, it’s done and I pull it with a slotted spoon. Be aware that your noodles with grow in the water, so don’t plan for angel hair your first time…  Think pappardelle or tagliatelle your first try.

wp_20141031_012-2Here’s what I wound up with for my dinner: A nice hand-cut fettuccine which I covered with a yummy sausage-onion-and-tomato sauce I sautéed up while the water boiled and the pasta dough rested.


So, what are you pasta tricks and tips?  Share your pics with me in the comments!