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Making Fresh Pasta

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widenoodles1Making fresh pasta is like giving birth. The idea is exciting, but once you’re in the thick of it, you realize the process is a little more painful than you originally thought. Just when you’re ready to throw in the towel and swear off making fresh pasta ever again, you hold those beautiful ribbons of dough in your hands and forget about the pain. Pride and utter adoration persuades you to contemplate doing it again. {child birth}

How can something so simple be such a PITA?

The process of making pasta is relatively simple – mix flour, eggs, water, sometimes oil (never salt – it messes with the gluten); knead dough, let rest, roll out, cut, cook in salted water, serve. But, what no one ever tells you about pasta-making is:

  1. It’s not a quick process
  2. It’s messy
  3. The lean dough is difficult to knead
  4. Rolling the dough is hard work and even with a machine, is time consuming.
Learning to love the process

Fresh pasta isn’t one of those quick, weeknight dinner projects; it takes an hour or so, from flour to plate. Knowing the time it takes is half the battle, removing some of the discontent from the process. Fresh pasta needs time, love and attention – here’s a better frame of mind:

  1. It’s not a quick process: Make pasta-making time “me” or “our” time – although it’s not a quick process, it’s the perfect way to nab some time to yourself, or spend that time with your kids and family.
  2. It’s messy: Messy can be fun. Visualize how you’re going to attack those clouds of flour and stuck-on pieces of dough after the mess has been made. Knowing how you’re going to tackle the mess ahead of time will kick cleaning anxiety to the curb.
  3. The lean dough is difficult to knead: The moisture in pasta dough comes from the egg and (optional) oil, and there’s not a lot of either in the dough, making it a little difficult to knead by hand. Hard flours, such as semolina and durum, coupled with the low moisture can also make the dough difficult to knead. The dough doesn’t require a lot of kneading, which is good news if doing it by hand. If you have a standing mixer with a dough hook, it can make the 5-minute process even easier, or you can pulse everything in the food processor and let the dough rest for a longer period of time.
  4. Rolling the dough is hard work: Because of the low moisture and hard flours, rolling the dough can be just as difficult as kneading it. Letting the dough rest for at least 25 minutes will relax the gluten and allow the dough to absorb as much moisture as possible.
Now and later

Once you come to terms with, and commit to enjoying the time well spent with the pasta dough, you can opt for two methods: (1) going the distance, making everything all at once, non-stop; or (2) you can make the dough in stages so it doesn’t seem so daunting, draining, and drawn-out:

  • Day 1: make the dough, let it rest overnight.
  • Day 2: roll and cut the dough, lightly coat in flour and allow to air dry for 10 minutes. Separate into portions and refrigerate on a sheet pan, or in portions separated by parchment paper and placed in a plastic container.
  • Day 3: Cook, eat, contemplate doing it again {soon}.

pasta1

Fresh Pasta Dough:
Yields: 1 lb. of pasta
Method: lean dough, pasta-making
Allergy info: soy-free, contains wheat, eggs

Ingredients:
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 oz. semolina or durum flour
4 oz unbleached, all-purpose flour or pastry flour

Make the dough:
By hand:

In a large bowl, whisk flours together. In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs with oil. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in egg mixture. Using your fingers, pull small amounts of flour into the eggs and mix by hand until well combined. When ingredients begin to form a loose ball, place dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead 5 minutes, then wrap in plastic and let rest in refrigerator at least 25 minutes or overnight.

By machine:

In the bowl of a food processor, add flour, eggs and oil; pulse until combined and form a loose ball of dough. Pulse 6 to 8 times, then wrap in plastic and let rest in refrigerator at least 45 minutes or overnight.

Roll the dough:
By hand:

Remove dough from refrigerator and cut into 6 equal pieces. Lightly flour a rolling pin and long work surface. Roll dough into a long rectangle-like shape, 1/16-inch thick, or to desired thickness; sprinkle dough and surfaces with additional flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using a pizza wheel, cut pasta dough into ribbons for fettuccine, lasagna, or tagliatelle. Noodles will be rustic-looking {which is the charm of handmade}. Lightly coat pasta ribbons with flour and allow to air dry for 10 minutes.

By machine:

Using the manufacturer’s guidelines, run pieces of dough through the sheet feeder until desired thickness. Cut ribbons of dough by hand, or if your machine has a noodle attachment, run sheets of dough through the noodle cutter for desired ribbon thickness. Lightly coat pasta ribbons with flour and allow to air dry for 10 minutes.

Store the pasta:

Fresh pasta dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days, or in the freezer for one month. To store, place dough ribbons in an air tight container, between layers of parchment to prevent sticking.

Cook the pasta:

Fill a large stock pot 3/4 full of water. Generously salt water (it should taste like the ocean) and bring to boiling over high heat. Reduce to strong simmer. Add pasta in batches and cook 1 to 3 minutes, depending on size and thickness.

Using a spider or pasta rake, remove pasta from water and immediately sauce, butter or oil to prevent sticking.
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  1. >It's so refreshing to hear your point of view. You are so right – every time I get the pasta machine out I have forgotten the time it takes (carried away by books telling me how easy it is) and the mess. JUST like childbirth! But also reminded how great to do too – the sense of achievement. Coincidentally I had put fresh pasta in this week's meal plan. I'll start early!

  2. nancy@skinnykitchen.com says:

    >Looks like a lot of work but i'm sure taste great!

  3. >I've always wanted to make fresh pasta but I don't know if I would have the patience. Looks sooo yummy :)

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