Friday, March 19, 2010

Homemade Pasta

If you are looking for a special treat, try making some pasta. It's not difficult at all, just requires some time. Pasta dough is a mixture of flour and eggs or flour and plain water. You can use white flour, whole wheat flour, semolina or a combination of these to make a pasta that is just how you like it. A combination of these flours seems to work great but the last batch I made was 100% whole wheat and it was delicious. Semolina is made from ground durum wheat which is a hard wheat that is used in Italy for making pasta. The flour has a lovely golden color similar to cornmeal and can be found at natural food stores or online. I've actually bought it before at our grocery store but haven't seen it there in years. Most recipes in Italian cookbooks call for eggs but I have made it with water and liked it just a well so I guess it's up to you and if you have several eggs laying around. So get out your rolling pin and some flour and let's get going!

Homemade Pasta
3 cups flour (which ever you want to use)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water
3/4 to 1 1/2 cup water

Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and water or plain water. I know there is a big range of water given, just start with the smaller amount and add more as needed to get a dough that sticks together but doesn't stick to your hands. Put the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and satiny. The Italian guide is to knead until it's as smooth as a baby's bottom! Cover the dough (I usually set the bowl upside down over the dough) and let it rest for 30 minutes to allow the gluten in the dough to relax. This will make it easier to roll. If a dough ever resists rolling just let it rest for 10 minutes or so to relax it.
After resting, divide the dough into 4 pieces and work with one while the others stay covered. Flour the surface and roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 10 inches long. Fold the ends in like a letter and re-roll it into a rectangle, fold it again. Now roll it out for the pasta. Roll and roll, flouring it as you need to until the dough is as thin as you can get it. The traditional rule is that it should be thin enough to read print through but I don't worry about getting it that thin. It takes some practice to be able to roll it out without it sticking or tearing but every time it gets easier. When it's thin enough, cut it with a sharp knife or pasta cutter (a pizza wheel would work also) into strips as wide as you want. You can also use this to make ravioli although I've only done that once and am still scarred from that experience. Usually I make this for lasagna, it's really divine and worth the extra effort. But this week I made fettuccine and it was great. I loved how it looked in the wooden bowl but I didn't love how it stuck together in a clump after sitting for a while. So, if you aren't cooking it right away, lay it out on floured towels or a counter top. It's fine for it to dry out a bit before cooking. Any leftover cut pasta can be thoroughly dried and stored in a airtight container, it doesn't need to be refrigerated. Also, if you are cooking it to serve with a sauce, only boil it for 2 or 3 minutes then start checking it for doneness. It cooks very quickly and if you turn all your lovely pasta into a pot of watery mush then you will be sad indeed. I challenge you to try it out, at least once. You will be glad you did!


Green Acres in the City said...

Sounds wonderful.

Heather said...

Oh yum yum yum. I remember the first time I ever had homemade pasta, it was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe Audra. Have a great weekend

Jenny said...

looks yummy.