There isn’t one thing on this earth food-wise that I love more than pasta. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that I could eat pasta and nothing else for the rest of my life and be completely satisfied. What is there not to love? Can you think of one thing? … I didn’t think so.
It’s such a relief that people are finally getting off the no carbs – only protein bandwagon. I mean, I get that we can’t gobble up carbohydrates like there’s no tomorrow but c’mon, it’s called balance people. Everything in moderation, right?
The first time I decided to conquer homemade pasta I was quite young; I decided I was going to make the whole family Goat Cheese Ravioli. I could just see it; I would effortlessly produce perfect sheets of pasta, create an irresistible filling of goat cheese, and then top it off with a luscious tomato sauce. Everyone would Ooo and Ahh at how beautiful and delicious my raviolis were. It would be perfect!
My reality check came quite quickly. My pasta sheets were not perfect at all; they were tough and full of air bubbles. My filling was not light and airy; it was watery and oozing out the sides of the ravioli. I will say, I don’t think the sauce was a total disaster because I don’t even remember it. That must mean it was good… or I guess it could just mean it wasn’t memorable – either way I’ll take it. My wonderful parents and brother still ate every bit of it and told me how delicious it was, but I knew that it was probably just shy of being inedible.
You would think after that disaster I would give up on pasta making and leave it to the professionals, but I was not to be discouraged. After a few more attempts I got the hang of it. I’ve since become pretty good at making pasta – and in a timely matter at that, although I won’t say it’s effortless. As I later found out, pasta requires plenty of time and definitely plenty of patience. But please don’t let that deter you; it doesn’t mean that it’s hard. Once you’ve had fresh pasta, you’ll never want to go back to the dried stuff. For me, it’s therapeutic and the rewards infinitely out way any difficulties that come along.
Start by making a well with your flour on a cutting board. Combine eggs, olive oil, water, and salt in the middle of the well. Slowly start to incorporate the flower into the egg mixture by stirring the mixture. The can take a little while. Be patient!
At this point you can start to use your hands to incorporate the rest of the flour. It may seem like it will never become one with the rest but it will. If after ten mintues or so, it still hasn’t come together, trash the excess flour.
Ok, you’re ready to start kneading. This is one of the most important components to making amazing pasta. You MUST knead. If you’re a little person like me, I would knead for about fifteen minutes. I say this because I have virtually no upper body strength and it takes me that long to get the dough to the consistency that is needed. If you aren’t like me and do have some upper body strength your kneading time should be more along the lines of 8-12 minutes.
You want all the flour to be incorporated and the dough to smooth and elastic.
Your pasta should now look a little something like this. Super smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and let set and room temperature for an hour and a half. This would be a good time to make filling for ravioli or sauce for fettuccini or this would be the perfect time to just relax, have a glass of wine and give your hardworking body a rest. Kneading is hard. You deserve it.
Now that your pasta has rested, cut off a small portion of the dough. Run it through a pasta maker on it’s widest setting two or three times.
Keep sending through the machine going to the next smallest setting after each pass. If I’m making fettuccini I like to take it to about a three. If you like yours a little thicker stop at four. Sprinkle a baking sheet and pasta sheets with flour to keep from sticking while you make the rest. I didn’t show it here, but you should cover everything with a dish towel to keep the pasta from drying out. You would stop at this point if you are going to make ravioli, canneloni, manicotti, or lasagna but if you want spaghetti, fettuccini, parapadelle, or any other long pasta, read on.
Here I’m making fettuccini, which is what I make fresh most often. Your pasta machine will have this attachment to make spaghetti and fettuccini; just send the sheets through and out comes perfect fettuccini! If you don’t have this attachment you can roll up each past sheet and cut into thin strips. It may not look as perfect but I guarantee that it will taste the same.
To cook: Add plenty of kosher salt to boiling water. Add pasta. Cook about four minutes.
Adapted slightly from Ann Burrell
Makes about 1 pound of pasta
31/2 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs plus one egg yolk
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoon water or more if needed
Pinch of salt.
To make the dough:
Place flour on a large cutting board. Make a well in the center. Add eggs, olive oil, water, and salt into the middle. With a fork, slowly mix the flour into the wet ingredients. When the dough become too thick to incorporate with a fork, use your hands. After all the flour is incorporated start to knead. Use the heel of your hand and very forcefully fold the dough over itself creating a smooth and elastic surface, about 10-15 minutes. When the dough is very smooth, wrap in plastic and let set for an hour and half at room temperature.
To roll the dough:
Take a three inch piece of dough and flatten. Run through the pasta machine on it’s widest setting three times. Fold the dough over itself into thirds. Pass through the machine another three times. With each passing after that go one setting smaller than the last until desired thinkness is reached. Cut into ravioli, fettuccini, manicotti, or whatever your heart desires.