Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Homemade Pasta

I made homemade pasta once and it... was a bit of a disaster.  I tried to do it without an exact recipe, without a pasta roller, and without any instruction.  I ended up with a very tough, thick pasta that made for some... uh... rock-like heavy ravioli.  But this time was the complete opposite in every respect!

We got a pasta roller as a wedding gift months ago and I had not gotten around to giving it a try until my friend took a pasta making class.  She has no roller, so bingo, the perfect opportunity presented itself!  And it was the most fun Friday night I've had in a long while!  Us girls made the pasta while the boys made the sauces, and everything came together in perfect harmony.

Step one is opening up your favorite bottle of wine, because that's a crucial ingredient in pasta making.  Obviously.  Otherwise, you just need some counter space, and prepare to get flour everywhere.

Pasta starts so simply - just an egg and 108 grams of regular, all-purpose flour.  Incorporate the egg into the flour, knead it (but only knead in as much flour as it wants to, otherwise it'll get tough).  Knead the pasta dough until it springs back when poked.  Then you're ready to start rolling it.

After rolling the pasta through setting #1 (or zero) multiple times, it continues to knead it, move on to #3, #5, and finally #7.  #7 is the final thickness unless you're doing ravioli, and then you would go up to #9.  What you're supposed to do with the even numbers, I have no idea.  ;-)  Dust both sides heavily with flour and lay out on wax paper to let dry out a bit (making it easier to cut).

We made a ton of them, so after they dried out a bit, we gently rolled them up, just to give ourselves some more workspace.  Then, let the cutting begin!  After it comes out, fluff it to keep the noodles from sticking to each other.  Then cook them for a few minutes in boiling water, mix with your favorite sauce, and you've got an amazing dinner!

We made a few sauces, and I've included the recipes for two of them below: Pesto and Cream Sauce with Pancetta, Peas, and Mushrooms.

Homemade Pasta
From pasta making class taught by Angie O
Makes about 1 portion?

108 grams all-purpose flour
1 egg

Create a volcano shape with the flour and put egg in the middle.  Use fork to fold in the flour until it becomes doughy enough that you can knead it with your hands.  Don't overknead it so it becomes sticky/tough.  It's ready when it springs back from the poke of a finger.  Run it through the machine's number 1 setting (or 0 on mine).  Once it becomes smooth, run it through again at 3, 5, and finally 7 (or 9 for ravioli), adding a sprinkle of flour each time if it's too sticky.  After it's finally rolled out, lay it out on a floured piece of wax paper.  Sprinkle it with flour and let dry a bit (it helps with cutting).  Cut it in desired shape, fluffing the glorious pile of noodles when it's done.  Plop into boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Pesto Sauce
From pasta making class taught by Angie O 
Makes about 1 1/3 cups

3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 oz. Parmesan cheese,  coarsely grated (2/3 cup)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
2/3 cup olive oil

With food processor running, drop in garlic and finely chop.  Stop motor and add nuts, cheese, salt, pepper, and basil, then process until finely chopped.  With motor running, add oil, blending until incorporated.

Pesto will keep for 1 week, chilled, the surface covered with plastic wrap.  Also, put it in a skinny jar for storage so there is less surface area, and cover with a thin layer of olive oil - this keeps it from browning.  You can also freeze it in a Ziploc bag or in ice cube trays.

Cream Sauce with Pancetta, Peas, and Mushrooms
From pasta making class taught by Angie O 
Makes 2-4 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 slice of thick pancetta (1/4 inch thick each), diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 cup cream (or more, to taste)
Handful of grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

On medium heat, saute onion for a few minutes.  Add pancetta and cook until just before slightly browned.  Add mushrooms and cook until they are tender (covering them helps retain some of their water).  Add peas.  Cook on medium heat for a few more minutes.  Add cream and let it reduce and thicken.  Add cheese.  Continue to stir until desired creaminess.  The overall time is about 20 minutes. 


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