Thursday, January 12, 2012
I find making pasta from scratch to be very fun and rewarding. It's really not difficult, and all you need is time (and love, always love). I first learned how to do this from the book Family Meals, which is still my go-to reference. A basic hand-cranked pasta machine helps to make the dough thin, which I think is quite difficult to do just with a rolling pin. However, that's not a requirement, and there's certainly nothing wrong with a thicker pasta! My machine, which looks very similar to this one (I recall paying about $15-$20 for it on discount, years ago) also has a cutting attachment for thin and wide noodles, but I sometimes cut the pasta by hand for fun anyway.
~note: It's best to have a couple resting periods for the dough between rolling, so please read through the method section before starting, to help you plan your time accordingly.
1 Cup organic, unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 Cup semolina flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 Tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons cold water
1 Tablespoon organic extra-virgin olive oil
1. Stir together both flours and the salt. You can do this in a large bowl, but I actually just dump everything on a large cutting board and mix it with my hands (more fun that way).
2. Mound up your flour mixture and make a well in the center. Add the eggs, water, and oil. (Alternatively, you could whisk the wet ingredients first and then add this to the dry). Mix thoroughly with your hands, forming a dough.
3. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until it's smooth and elastic. If it's too sticky, add more flour. If too dry and crumbly, add more water.
4. Form the dough into a round ball, and cut it in thirds. Flatten each third into a disk, cover with a damp towel, and let rest for about 45 minutes. At this point you can also refrigerate or freeze the dough for later use. Just let it come to room temperature before proceeding to the next step.
5. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, until it's thin enough to fit through the widest setting on the pasta machine (labeled with a "1" on mine). Roll each piece of dough through the machine's widest setting 3 times, folding it in half before each time. Cover again, and let it rest 15 minutes.
6. Roll the dough through each progressively narrower setting once, until you have a long, smooth sheet. You're aiming for a dough that's thin enough to see your hand through! Dust the dough in flour if at any point it begins to stick too much to the machine.
7. At this point, you have a world of options for cutting your pasta! You can use the sheets as is, for lasagna. You can cut them in squares for ravioli. Or you can make noodles of any width, either with the machine's attachment, or by hand using a knife.
8. I made mine into noodles this time. If you cook them straightaway, they only need under a minute in boiling, salted water. I also add oil to the water to help prevent sticking. Alternatively, you can dust them with flour and refrigerate, or leave them in the open air to dry for storage.
~note: They take a couple hours to dry, and are really delicate, so just know you'll have some breakage when you go to put them in your storage container. It might be best to dry them on a baking sheet, but I'm still experimenting with the best method for this part.
And, how do you know you've fully enjoyed your pasta making experience? By the dough and flour found on the floor, of course!
As well as by the swift clean-up crew that comes to your aid.