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Friday, June 15, 2007

Making Pasta

When I said once that I was going to make some pasta for dinner, this woman gasped so hard I thought she was going to inhale something! She made a comment about with 'everything else I have to do' and what a lot of trouble. I think people are afraid of it for very unfounded reasons. It is not complicated at all. In fact, it is not a lot different than making cookies. And I do have a pasta press, but you don't have to have anything fancy at all. A rolling pin is enough equipment!

Pasta ala Amy!

First we mix the dough. Most of the time they will tell you to mix the wet ingredients, then the dry, then sift them together using a well. I've never had any trouble dumping everything into the bowl at one time and just mixing. The basic pasta recipe is:

2 eggs
1 tbsp. olive oil
pinch salt
2 cups flour
1/3 cup water

The dough.

Today I felt like having a little different flavor, so I added a teaspoon of a Basil Pesto I bought at the salvage grocery. It's like a paste, so I just dissolved it in the water. After everything is in the bowl, mix until uniform. Flour your table or counter and dump out. Put a good handful of flour on top and start kneading. You want this dough to be like cookie dough, not like bread dough. When you get it to the right consistency, let it rest 10 minutes. This is when I usually go prep the garlic bread. (I slice sourdough bread, spread butter on one side, sprinkle garlic granules and salt, and toast in the oven.)


After the rest period, divide the dough into about 8 pieces. If you have a pasta machine, roll it through the widest roller setting. If not, roll it to about ½" with a rolling pin. Allow to rest again. You might think all this resting takes up time, but by the time you get the last one rolled, the first one is ready to go again. After you work a piece for any reason, flour it well. Nothing is worse than rolling and waiting only to find it is hopelessly stuck to the table.

Rolling the dough.

A sheet of pasta. It might not look attractive, but the flavor will hook you!

Start your salted water to boil. Now roll a sheet through a thinner setting, or roll thinner with your rolling pin. Allow to rest again while you roll the rest (don't forget to dust with flour). Next comes the cutting. My machine came with a double-sided attachment for angel hair and linguine. We made a very chunky sauce, so I chose the linguine roller today. Holding the pasta gently with one hand, I crank the handle and let it cut the pasta into strips (though if you have a daughter helping, she might like to crank while you feed it in). After the cut pasta comes out, I put it in my hand with some flour, shake it gently, and then set it in pile. If you were going to dry it you would do this differently.

Maggie working the crank for me while I cut linguine.

Waiting for the water.

We also make some hand-cut pasta. We found cutters at a restaurant supply store, but you can use a cookie cutter or a butter knife. Do it the same way you would with cookies.

Cutting out circles (no ravioli today).

You can also use cutters to make ravioli if you like: Have ready two thin sheets of pasta dough. Lay one down. Gently press the cutter into the dough just enough to leave the impression so you know where to put your filling. Put a spoonful on each of the dough marks, then cover with the second sheet and press down gently, getting out air. Then push your cutter all the way through to cut the squares (or circles) free.

After cutting linguine and shapes, I take the left-overs and just tear them into bit-sized pieces and cook them too! Fresh pasta cooks very quickly, so don't go anywhere. Use a slotted spoon to fish out the cooked pieces and then cook another round. The last batch can be strained through a colander.

Mama's sauce.

Serve with salad fresh from the garden, sourdough garlic bread, and home-made sauce, and it is completely ...satisfying.


a soldier's wife said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've always wanted to try to make pasta but have always been too scared to try. I think after reading this and seeing the pictures, I'll have enough nerve to give it a try ;-)

Mrs. Brigham said...

What fun! My husband recently purchased a pasta maker for our house, but we have yet to use it. Your post has inspired me to give it a try :o) Thank you for posting this!