I can still remember the first time I tasted homemade pasta. We were visiting North Carolina and were told we just had to try this Italian restaurant called 411 in Chapel Hill. What was the secret to their amazing food? “They make their own pasta.” Six years went by and we found ourselves in Cinque Terre enjoying a multi-course meal at an agriturismo. (As one does.. ;-)) The star of the show for me was the first course – a vegetable lasagna with a béchamel sauce. We still talk about that meal as one of the best we’ve ever had in Italy. These amazing dishes were special occasions though. Not something you could recreate regularly at home.. or could you?
We began making our own pasta last year. I had an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and we were already so far down the foodie rabbit hole. Why not give pasta making a try? I knew the results would be delicious, but I’ve been surprised at how easy it is to make. Even when I’ve added a little too much or too little water to the dough, the end result has still tasted amazing!
Wondering what you need to get started? You’ll want to have a pasta maker like our Atlas or the pasta making attachment for your KitchenAid. Accessories we’ve found are nice to have include a flour shaker, a dough scraper, and a wooden rack to hang your noodles on prior to cooking.
On to the pasta making! We use the ubiquitous Italian recipe of 1 egg and 100 g of flour per person. Of that flour, we do half all purpose flour and half semolina flour. So, for our family of two adults and three kids, we usually make 6 eggs worth of pasta. (We generally have 2 servings of leftovers for the next day – lunch for the grownups!) First, bring your eggs to room temperature by placing them in a bowl of warm water. Weigh your all purpose and semolina flours and whisk them together. Then, dump them onto the counter and make a well in the center. Crack your eggs into this well.
Whether you use a pastry scraper or just your hands, mix together the eggs and flour. You will probably need to add some water to get it to come together. Try not to use too much though – a dough that’s too wet will require even more flouring as you roll it out with your pasta maker. Conversely, a too-dry dough will be harder to flatten out with your palm and more difficult to feed through your pasta maker. After you’ve worked and kneaded your dough together into a smooth ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least an hour at room temperature. (Note for those who plan ahead: This first step of the process can be done hours or even a day ahead if it’s in the refrigerator. If you leave your dough too long, it can turn an unappetizing gray color, though it doesn’t affect the taste. Just something to bear in mind.)
When you’re ready to roll out your dough, divide it into four sections. You’ll work the dough into a rough rectangle (as our toddler is attempting to do in the above picture) and then feed it through on the 0 setting. Your dough needs to be dry and not tacky, so flour each side as needed (usually about every or every other pass through). Feed the dough through once on each setting until you get to the setting your recipe calls for (usually 6 or 7). If you’re making lasagna, your noodles just need to be cut to length (use your lasagna pan as a guide) and cooked. If your recipe calls for spaghetti or fettuccini, you’ll need to cut this long rectangle in half (to keep your noodles from being excessively long) and then feed your rectangle through the appropriate attachment (fettuccini, spaghetti, etc). Repeat this with your remaining three sections of dough.
So easy, your kids can do it!
Next, bring a pot of water to a boil. Salt your water and add your pasta. What type of noodle you’re cooking will determine the cooking time. But generally speaking, 1-3 minutes is going to be about how long it will take to cook. I’m usually standing there taste-testing. 🙂 Next week – two of our favorite pasta sauces! If you’ve got a favorite, link it in the comments below!
Pasta for 2
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 100 grams all purpose flour
- 100 grams semolina flour
Whisk both flours together, then make a well in the middle of it, and crack the eggs in. Work the eggs into the flours until it comes together. If necessary, add as little water as possible to help bring it all together. Wrap in plastic and let rest for an hour.