Kitchen Basics: Homemade Pasta

If you’ve been following along at home, you already know of my love for Mediterranean foods.  Nothing illustrates this more than my addiction to all things pasta.  Living in Italy as a young man I had pasta with nearly every dinner... sometimes as the side, sometimes as the meal (always delicious).

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Believe me when I tell you that I have eaten more than my fair share of dried, boxed pasta.  However, there is something so good about homemade pasta.  It has little to do with the taste as far as I am concerned.  I find that pasta mostly tastes like pasta plus whatever you are putting on it.  The texture, on the other hand, is different.  It is still toothsome, but softer, if that makes sense.

Of course, I could be completely wrong.  It might just be the satisfaction of knowing that you made it... with your own hands, with your own stuff, in your own kitchen.  If you are lucky enough to have great kids with an appreciation for food and cooking you get the added bonus of family time.  And that’s a seasoning you can’t buy in a jar.

savour... al dente

Get the rest after the jump...

Pasta at home

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Before you start:

Have your ingredients ready ahead of time.

Remove jewelry before you start or you will have to dig dough from your diamonds.

You will want to make your pasta slightly thinner than the dried pasta you find in the store.  Homemade pasta will swell more than dried pasta when cooked.

It is best to cook homemade pasta fairly soon after making it.  If you can’t do that then be sure to seal it in an airtight container while it is still a little moist.  This could be stored in your refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Some may prefer to let it dry completely and then store in a cool dry place for up to 6 weeks.  Disclaimer: I must tell you that I have never done this, but I have heard that it works.

For tagliatelle cut strips 1/4 inch wide, for fettucine 1/8 inch wide, for tagliarini 1/16 inch wide.  Lasagna noodles can be cut anywhere from 2-4 inches.

The ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

3-6 tablespoons water

The method:

  1. Put flour and salt on a clean, dry countertop in a mound.
  2. Make a deep well in the center of the mound.
  3. Place 2 eggs in the well you created.
  4. Beat the eggs slightly.
  5. In a circular motion begin to draw flour in from the sides as you mix with the egg. You can do this with a spoon or fork in the beginning, but you will ultimately need to switch to your hands as it toughens.
  6. Add water a tablespoon at a time until all of the flour is moistened.
  7. Keeping the dough and countertop floured, knead the dough until it is no longer sticky and will not break off when pulled. If you are using a machine, it will do some of the work. You will only need to knead about 3-4 minutes. If you are continuing on by hand, additional kneading is necessary. Count on 10 minutes.
  8. Shape dough into ball and cut into 4 equal pieces.
  9. Place pieces on a plate and cover with an inverted bowl.
  10. Allow the dough to rest for about 10 minutes while you prepare for the next steps.
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If you are using a machine,

  1. Run a piece of the dough ball through the machine at its widest setting. Each time flour dough as necessary to make sure it is not sticky. Fold the dough into thirds. Repeat 6 or 7 times.
  2. Move the setting one notch and run the dough through again in the same manner as above 6 times.
  3. Continue moving the setting one notch narrower and dusting the dough with flour, folding, and passing through the machine until you are at the desired thickness.
  4. Now pass the dough through the cutter that will yield the desired pasta.
  5. Hang cut pasta on drying rack.
  6. Allow pasta to dry for at least 5 minutes before boiling.

If you are making pasta by hand,

  1. Roll out one piece of dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness.
  2. Continue stretching and rolling until you get the desired thickness.
  3. Allow rolled out dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Roll up dough like a jelly roll and with a very sharp knife cut into desired widths.
  5. Cut into strips depending on the pasta you desire.
  6. Hang cut pasta on drying rack.
  7. Allow pasta to dry for at least 5 minutes before boiling.
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