homemade pasta

I love pasta. It's such a versatile food. It goes well with fish, meat, or can be done vegetarian. It can even be the star of the show all by itself. Dressed really simply with good extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, a squeeze of lemon, some fresh herb like parsley or basil, and maybe a pinch of chili pepper. Aglio e olio style.
And there's no better way to showcase the pasta than to make it yourself. If you don't have a pasta machine, you can definitely roll it out and cut it by hand. Just make sure you generously flour it to prevent sticking, keep it moving on the rolling board, and roll it really thin. But you're going to love it so much that you'll want to make it again. So you might want to invest in a pasta machine someday. It'll change your life. You'll probably, like me, still use dried pasta all the time, but you'll long for that fresh pasta texture and flavor that you just can't get elsewhere.
I try not to use overly exotic ingredients that I can't find in a normal grocery store, so I'm giving you a perfectly appropriate alternative to the way I did this. I bought my semolina and durum flour at a specialty food store, so if you can't find it, don't worry. Unbleached all-purpose flour will do a perfect job on it's own. Unbleached is preferable in this case because it's been through less processing and has a higher amount of gluten. That produces a firmer pasta, which is definitely desirable. That's the case with all of my bread and most of my baking, except on the rare occasion I use cake flour for some delicate desserts. Semolina flour is what most store-bought pastas are made of. It provides elasticity to the dough, but can be hard to work with because it's fairly stiff. So, a combination of unbleached all-purpose, durum, and semolina flours has been my favorite combination so far. I might change my mind later with more experience, but for now, that's what I'm sticking with.

Fresh Pasta
makes 1 lb
1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour*
1/4 cup semolina
1/4 cup durum flour
3 large eggs, beaten

*if you can't find semolina or durum flour, use 2 full cups of unbleached all-purpose flour instead
  1. Pulse the flour in the food processor to aerate. Add the eggs and process until the dough forms a rough ball, about 30 seconds.
  2. If the dough is too dry add water, 1 teaspoon at a time. If the dough sticks to the sides of the work bowl, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Process until the dough forms a rough ball.
  3. Turn out the dough and any small bits onto a clean counter and knead until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes before rolling.
  4. To roll using a hand-crank pasta machine, cut about 1/8 of the dough and form a disc, and recover the remaining dough with the plastic wrap. Run the disc through the rollers set at the widest setting on the pasta machine. Fold in half and run it through the machine again. If it seems to be getting to wide, fold again lengthwise to run it through again. If it seems too narrow, fold crosswise and run through again.
  5. Set the rollers one size smaller and run it through the machine. Keep lowering the size until you reach the smallest size. Set the dough sheet aside, sprinkle with a tiny bit of flour, and repeat with the rest of the dough.
  6. Once finished, you can hand cut to desired width, or run the sheets through the cutting attachment for even widths.
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta to al dente, or until the pasta floats to the top and lightens in color slightly. Remember that fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried.


Mrs. B.'s Bulletin said...

Oh my goodness Lillian! How gorgeous your photos are. It makes me want to get out my pasta machine that I haven't used for a few years. I used to make homemade pasta all the time, but haven't in a while, too lazy, I guess. You inspire me! BTW - FABULOUS new web site.

Amanda said...

I love the look of your new blog! I've never been confident enough to try making pasta...one day, maybe. :)