White, whole wheat, and spinach pasta.
This post contains my FIRST ever video that I filmed and edited completely by myself! Please be nice!
Fresh pasta sounds like something that is impossibly complicated if you’ve never made it before. However, it’s really not too difficult. It’s just a little time consuming and messy. But aren’t most good things in life? If you have a weekend or day off to experiment with making fresh pasta, read this post and watch this video for some tips and tricks that I hope will make your pasta making adventures successful.
Before I start with anything, I’d like to make a note that I am not attempting to closely follow Italian pasta making tradition nor do I have any Italian in my blood. If what I say goes against what your Nonna says about pasta, please don’t get mad at me. This is what I’ve learned from culinary school and trial and error. This recipe utilizes what is probably already in your kitchen – eggs and all-purpose flour. If you have access to Italian “00″ flour then try and use it for a more traditional and firm pasta. If not, don’t fret. You can still make great pasta with good ole’ AP flour.
Why bother to make fresh pasta in the first place? Well, like I mentioned, it’s not as hard as you might think. It can even be fun. Plus, there are endless options for pasta dough variations (see beneath the recipe) and endless options for how you can use the pasta. Stay tuned for another video and post dedicated to stuffed pastas like ravioli.
Pasta can be made by hand and with a food processor. The video shows how to make it by hand. If you want to put your food processor to work, simply process all the ingredients until a rough ball forms, about 30 seconds. If you get nothing but pebble-like pieces of dough, add more water until the ball forms. If your ball sticks to everything, add more flour.
What you’re looking for in pasta dough:
-Malleable enough to shape but strong enough to handle boiling water
-Soft, smooth, and elastic in texture but never dense or tough
-Pasta dough can dry out quickly and become unusable so make sure your dough is ALWAYS covered when you’re not working with it
What you’re looking for when rolling out the dough:
-You can roll the dough out by hand with a rolling pin but it will be more difficult and time consuming
-Pasta makers don’t have to be super expensive or fancy, you can get a decent one for around $20-$30
-If your dough sticks or becomes oddly shaped, you can always reform and start again
-Your dough should be coated with flour at all times when rolling out
-The dough should become silky, satiny, and smooth as you roll it out
-If the pasta becomes too long to work with, cut in half, cover one half and continue to roll out the other half
-Use a knife or a pasta cutting attachment to your pasta maker to cut into desired shapes
-Shaped pasta may be cooked, refrigerated for 2 days, or allowed to dry completely at room temperature and stored in your pantry for months.
-Stuffed pasta such as ravioli freezes particularly well
To cook your fresh pasta:
-Bring a pot of well-salted water (1 tablespoon of salt per pound of pasta) to a gentle boil
-Do not add oil to your water and do not rinse the pasta once it’s cooked
-Fresh pasta cooks much faster than dried pasta, usually less than 5 minutes
Ravioli made with three of the pasta doughs, stay tuned for a post about ravioli.
Fresh Pasta Dough
Yield: about 1 pound of dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
4 large eggs
In a large bowl or on a clean work surface make a mound out of the flour then make a deep well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the well of flour. Add a generous sprinkle of salt. Using a fork, gently beat the eggs until combined then start gradually scraping the flour into the egg mixture until the mixture thickens and a dough starts to form. At this point use your hands to continue adding flour to the egg mixture just until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball. You may not need to use all the flour. Continue gently kneading the dough, adding more flour if it is too sticky, until it becomes smooth, soft, and elastic.
Cover the dough and let it rest at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes or up to 2 hours. The dough can also be completely covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day at this point (the dough may turn a grayish color from refrigeration which should not impact the taste).
Prepare your pasta roller and generously flour your work surface. Cut off a quarter of the dough and coat completely in flour. Flatten the dough slightly before rolling through the widest setting on the pasta maker. If the dough comes out oddly shaped, fold the edges over to reform into a perfect rectangle. Continue to run the dough through the widest setting and reshaping until the dough is of even thickness and shape and has increased elasticity. If you're using a hand crank pasta roller, try to maintain a consistent rolling speed. Continue rolling the dough through each roller setting twice to ensure the dough remains evenly thick, well shaped, and satiny in texture. Roll until desired thickness.
Use the pasta roller cutter attachments to cut the dough into desired pasta shapes. If the dough isn't completely cut but the cutter attachment, it may be too soft and needs more flour. You can also flour the dough well, roll it up, and use a knife to cut strips of dough. The pasta is now ready to be cooked or may be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. To dry pasta cuts like fettuccine, either dry the pasta on a pasta drying rack (or a makeshift one) or curl the pasta into nests and let the pasta dry for 24 hours at room temperature. Filled pasta can be frozen in a single layer on floured baking sheets then transferred to airtight containers for up to 2 months. No need to thaw before cooking
Traditional: Replace all-purpose flour with Italian "00" flour.
Whole Wheat Pasta Dough: Use 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour and proceed with recipe.
Herbed Pasta Dough: Add 1/4 cup minced fresh herbs to the eggs, adjusting flour if necessary.
Spinach Pasta Dough: Cook 6 ounces of spinach in 1/4 cup water in a large pot over medium heat until the spinach is wilted and tender, about 4 to 5 mintues. Drain the spinach in a dry cheesecloth and squeeze out as much water as possible. Puree the spinach in a blender or food processor until smooth. Proceed with dough, decreasing the eggs to 3 and increasing the flour if necessary.