June 13, 2013

Making Pasta at Home

Since I have been on a fresh pasta kick, I thought perhaps I would show you the process of making it at home.

Of course, if you have a pasta machine, you probably already have this down.  I, for one, keep losing the recipe I like, and keeping it here will be helpful for at least myself. Hopefully for you, too.

Many recipes will call for several eggs to make a very rich and yellow dough.  It turns out that I prefer the flavor of the pasta itself and like a leaner dough.  I also like using semolina instead of regular all-purpose flour, but AP flour works, too, in a one-to-one substitution ratio.

Some other tips might be useful, too, aside from the actual recipe.  Making pasta at home it actually quite simple if you have the tools, but it does require some time and little finesse.  The process requires some space and a whole afternoon.

  • 1 1/2 cups semolina flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t. olive oil
  • pinch salt
  • a small bowl of all purpose flour, for dusting

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until the dough gathers to together and moves en masse around the blade.  Remove the dough from the processor and knead by hand for a minute.  It will be sticky and have a grainy feel; the goal of kneading it is to bring the dough together and jumpstart the process of allowing the moisture to be absorbed.

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a few days.  Remove from fridge and cut dough into quarters.  Run each quarter through the widest setting on a pasta rolling machine several times, folding into thirds and forming a rectangle.  This serves as kneading the dough, so run each quarter through until it starts to feel smooth and elastic.

Still folding dough in thirds after each pass, move to the next setting.  Once on the third setting, stop folding sheets of dough and dust well with flour as you set them aside for the next round.  They can be stacked to save space. Run each through the progressive settings twice until you get to the second-to-last setting - my last setting is "6" and is too thin, which always tears the dough.  Cut each sheet in half when it gets too long to run through the machine comfortably.

Once you have achieved the thickness you like, you can cut the sheets into squares for ravioli.  If you have fettuccine, linguini, or spaghetti plates, go ahead and use them.  If not, and you want noodles, roll each sheet into a tube, crosswise, and cut into slices of your desired thickness.  Unfurl the rolls into long noodles!  This is the best way to get pappardelle, too.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water.  Like usual.  The only difference is that fresh pasta cooks in 3-5 minutes.  Drain and serve with any sauce you like - fresh pasta is so good that even tossing it with butter and salt like dish for a picky child will be delicious!

Stay tuned for late-summer garden recipes, in which I'll use beets and fresh pasta dough to make Beet Ravioli with Poppy Seed Butter.  It's good.  Really good.

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