My parents gave me a pasta roller for Christmas this year. Now that I have one, I’m not quite sure how I managed not to have one for so long. It’s not like I can claim I didn’t know how much better fresh, homemade pasta is than the dried, boxed stuff. (And if you’ve never had it fresh, trust me on this one, really.) I learned to make it at Kendall and worked with it during my externship at Green Dolphin Street. I guess what matters is that it’s back in my repertoire now.
Homemade pasta is one of those foods that has an undeserved reputation for being difficult. There’s really not much to it, and it’s not even terribly time-intensive. It’s just flour, eggs and a touch of oil, really. Mix together, knead and roll it out. Simple as that. And once you try a batch of fresh pasta, I’m sure you’ll agree it’s quite worth the effort.
When I make fresh pasta, I usually make enough for two meals. I roll it all out and let the extra sit out to dry for 30 minutes or so, then wrap it into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet overnight. Once frozen, I put the balls in ziploc bags to store. Don’t thaw the pasta before cooking; just put it straight into the boiling water from the freezer. It will take about a minute longer to cook from frozen.
Spring Herb Pasta
Adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook
Fresh pasta is quite delicate, so I don’t like to overwhelm it with a heavy tomato sauce. I generally just toss it with a splash of olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper and maybe some shaved Parmesan. This is a great place for flavored oils as well; the spring herb pasta went quite nicely with a blood orange olive oil.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
6 egg yolks
1 tsp olive oil
2 green onions, finely minced
1/3 cup chopped parsley
Make sure to clean your counter well before you begin; the pasta is mixed on the counter with no bowls. Mound the flour into a little hill on your counter, then hollow out a hole about 4 inches wide in the middle. Put all the other ingredients into the hole.
Put two fingers into the middle eggs and herbs. Trace circles in the eggs until well mixed, then widen the circles so your fingers go to the edge of the flour each time. You’ll start to see trails of flour coming into the middle of the eggs. Continue mixing this way until the majority of the flour is incorporated into the dough.
Once most of the flour is incorporated and there’s no danger of eggs cascading across your counter, begin kneading the pasta dough to incorporate the last bit of flour. Continue kneading until all the flour is incorporated, then an additional 10 minutes.
Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes. (I generally just toss it in a plastic grocery bag.)
Flatten the dough ball and divide it into 8 roughly equal pieces. Each of these pieces will be rolled out separately. Be sure to keep the pieces you’re not using covered so they don’t dry out.
I find it’s easier to roll out pasta with a second person to help, especially when using a hand crank machine. My daughter loves to be the helper.
Roll out the pasta according to the directions for your machine. Basically, start at the widest setting and continue passing the dough through the rollers, decreasing the setting by one or two each time. My machine goes from 1 to 7, so I start at 7, then 5, 3 and 2. I stop at the second thinnest setting; the thinnest setting gives an almost translucent dough.
Once the pasta sheets are at your desired thickness, roll them through the noodle cutter, one at a time. (Note, depending on how long and wide your pasta sheets end up, you may want to cut them in half before you run them through the noodle cutter. I ended up with 3 foot long pasta once, which was a bit hard to eat.)
Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes.
Yes, it’s been a while since I posted anything. I got rather busy around Christmas and before I knew it, it had been a month with no updates. Then that month stretched to two and I thought it’d been too long. But I realized that I missed the blog. So here I am.
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