This is one of those posts that I think really embodies what I’m trying to do with this site. I’ve never made fresh pasta before. The excuse I’ve always said is that I don’t have a pasta press. But a few weeks ago I got to thinking that you know what, pasta was made before pasta presses. Not having that one little piece of equipment shouldn’t stop me from giving it a shot.
This is what I ended up with!
Now I’m sure this whole thing would’ve been easier with a pasta maker but it was pretty cool making it the old school way. I imagine how many Italians do this everyday, and you don’t hear them complaining! Well, not too much at least.
While I had never made homemade pasta before, I had a general idea of how to do it and also knew that I was going to have to apply some of my bread-making kneading skills.
1) Mix together salt and flour on a clean counter and make a well in the center of the flour mound.
2) Crack eggs and yolks into the center of the well.
3) Using a fork, slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour. Ideally, you’ll do this slowly until you have a nice firm dough, but if the eggs escape the well, you can just stir everything together as well as possible.
4) Once the dough is together, start kneading it. It will be a pretty stiff dough. If it is cracking and not holding together, add some water to the dough, but it should be pretty stiff.
5) Knead the dough for 10-15 minutes until it’s very smooth, but should be still on the firm side.
6) Cover the dough loosely and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
7) Divide dough into quarters and work with one quarter at a time. Run it through your pasta roller until it reached the desired thickness or you can carefully roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it’s the desired thinness. It’s very hard to get it as thin as a pasta press will.
8) Once it’s rolled, cut the dough into your desired strips or shapes and toss them lightly with flour to keep the strands separated. Cook in salted boiling water until they float. It will take only a few minutes to cook.
Drain and serve the pasta immediately!
So basically it is just egg and flour with a bit of salt. I didn’t have 5 eggs on hand so I substituted about 2 Tablespoons of water for one of the yolks which worked out fine.
The first step is to mix the salt and flour together (I just used the old hands) and then make a well on the counter. Add your eggs and yolks in the center of this well.
If you watch an expert do the next step, it may come together perfectly. I learned that this is not terribly easy though. Ideally you want to slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs with a fork until you have a nice even dough. I ended up with this:
But do not fret! Keep working and eventually you will get a nice firm ball of dough. Now for the work part. You will need to knead this for about 15 minutes and I’m not going to lie, it is not as easy as kneading bread. The dough is pretty stiff. If it isn’t holding together, add a few drops of water.
You shouldn’t need to add a lot of flour to this, but if it is sticking to your counter you may need to use some.
The technique I use is to push the ball down with the palm of my hand, fold it over, turn it 90 degrees, and do the whole thing all over again.
Eventually you will have a firm stiff dough. Cover this with a cloth or plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. You could also refrigerate at this point for 24 hours or so.
Then it is time to roll. Assuming you don’t have a pasta press, get out your largest rolling pin and work slowly. It took me probably 5-10 minutes to get this nice 2 foot by 1 foot rectangle. Try to get it as thin as possible. It is definitely hard to impossible to get it as thin as a pasta press can.
At this point you can cut the dough into whatever shapes you want. You could make ravioli or any number of other fun things. I wanted to make just a simple linguine type pasta. I turned my dough the other way and floured it pretty heavily to keep the dough from sticking to itself.
Then you just roll this up tightly and slice it as thin or thick as you would like. Use the sharpest knife you have to cut so the dough doesn’t press down and cuts smoothly.
Once it is all cut, toss it lightly to separate all the strands.
At this point you can let this hang to dry and freeze it in a plastic bag, or you can cook it right away in boiling salted water.
It only takes a few minutes for this stuff to cook. I tossed mine with some sauteed mushrooms, butter, parsley, and Parmesan cheese.
My noodles were a bit thicker than I would have liked, but it was really fun to make and kind of a work out also! Even though it wasn’t perfect, I feel much more confident about my pasta making abilities.
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