Simple Food: Pasta From Scratch
With only 2 ingredients, making pasta might be easier than you think.
Pasta is a staple in our house, from a fast bolognese for a weeknight dinner or a grand lasagne for an event, I love it in many forms. But, have you discovered the marvel that is fresh pasta? Silky smooth and a complete revelation, pasta is easy to make yourself from scratch and will always impress.
If you have 2 particular pieces of gear in your kitchen, namely a food processor and a pasta rolling machine than you can knock out a cooked batch of fettuccini in under 10 minutes. Never fear though, it can be done without the gadgetry if required, as Italian Nonnas have been doing for decades.
To be honest though, with my cooking-related-laziness, I would probably not take the job on a regular basis without a pasta rolling machine. These little babies are not too expensive. A good one should set you back about $50 plus. Choose a decent, solid, stainless steel, hand-cranking one that will clamp to the bench. Cheap freestanding ones or plastic electric ones won’t go the distance, as they have to work quite hard. I have had my one, bought from a little Italian continental deli working solidly for about 15 years and it still looks brand new. As such, it can be worth looking out for them second hand too. Having said all that, I have recently invested in a pasta roller and cutter attachment for the KitchenAid stand mixer I acquired as a 40th birthday gift and it is amazing. Certainly not essential, but a great piece of luxury kit that gets love and use around here (both the stand mixer and the pasta attachment).
250g plain flour*
2 eggs, 1 egg yolk
Small amount of cold water (iff required)
*Italian "00" Flour which is super fine is recommended as the best pasta for flour, but in the spirit of keeping things simple I only keep/use standard plain flour and it comes out fine.
Place flour in food processor with a steel chopping blade and blitz, adding eggs one at a time. Process until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs. Squish a bit together in your hands and if it holds together, turn it out onto a clean, lightly-floured bench. If it falls apart, stick the lid back on, turn the machine on and add cold water, just a tiny bit at a time (just the teeny tiniest drizzle) until the right consistency is reached. You don’t want it to become sticky. Never fear though, if you add a little too much, just add a bit more flour. Once your pile of crumbs is out on the board, squish it all together in a ball.
To do it by hand, place your flour on your work surface in a pile and make a well in the top. Crack the eggs in and beat them gently with a fork until they’re all even. Then start combining it gradually into the flour with the fork. Once the egg disappears into the mix, get your hands in and even it all out, bringing it all together in a ball.
Now it’s the same for both… Time to knead. This is important for the final texture of the pasta. Knead by pressing firmly down and out with the heel of your hand, rotate 45 degrees and repeat. Flip and do the same. Knead it energetically until it becomes silky and smooth instead of crumby and floury. Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
Cut it into 2 pieces, ball them up, wrap firmly in cling wrap and stick it in the fridge for half an hour to rest. You can skip this part if you’re in a hurry, but it does make things a bit easier.
I’m assuming you’re using a pasta machine to roll and cut here, if you’d like the full instructions for a rolling pin and knife pop over here …..http://allrecipes.com.au/how-to/51/how-to-make-fresh-pasta-without-a-pasta-machine.aspx
Make sure the machine is clamped firmly to a clean work surface before you start and use the longest available work surface you have.
Dust your work surface with a little flour, take one piece of the of pasta dough press it out flat with your hands. Set the pasta machine at its widest setting and roll the pasta dough through. It will need a bit of muscle and may tear into a few of bits, but just stick it back together again. If it sticks at all, lightly dust with flour.
Click the machine down a setting and roll the pasta dough through again. Fold the pasta in half, click the pasta machine back up to the widest setting and roll the dough through again.
Repeat this process five or six times. It starts off feeling like you aren’t doing anything except wear your arm out, but you’ll soon see that it works the dough just like kneading it and it will become smooth and silky.
Once the dough is running smoothly through the first 2 settings, it’s time to roll it out fully. Working through all the settings on the machine, from the widest and going narrower. Lightly dust both sides of the pasta with a little flour every time you run it through.
If you have rough edges, uneven ends or it goes weirdly long and skinny, just fold it in half, back up a setting and run it through again.
Jamie Oliver’s tips for judging your thickness:
“If you're making pasta like tagliatelle, lasagne or stracchi you'll need to roll the pasta down to between the thickness of a beer mat and a playing card; if you're making a stuffed pasta like ravioli or tortellini, you'll need to roll it down slightly thinner or to the point where you can clearly see your hand or lines of newsprint through it.”
Once you've rolled your pasta the way you want it, you need to shape or cut it straight away. If you need to leave your sheets before cutting, cover them with a damp cloth, but still don’t dally - it’ll dry and become brittle much faster than you might expect. To make noodles, cut into sheets of a reasonable noodle length (I find this recipe cuts into 4 lengths - each long sheet into 2). Cut by hand by rolling the sheets up fairly loosely and using a sharp knife to cut strips of your desired thickness, or run it through your desired pasta cutter.
Once your pasta is cut into noodles, fluff them loosely on the bench with a little flour and arrange them in small bundles/nests or they can be hung over a clean broom handle (although not in this house with the dog around).
I usually make mine to go straight from the pasta machine to the pot. I put a pot of water fresh from the kettle onto the stove, then make my pasta. Sometime I can beat the water to the boil. A few minutes later (much faster than dried pasta) and you’ll have a generous serving for 4.
Top tip: don't ever immerse your pasta machine in water. It's not necessary to clean it like that. Let everything dry, then just brush it out and wipe with a damp cloth if needed. Water + flour = glue!
If you have the luxury of a stand mixer and want to put it to work, here's some instructions here: https://www.thelittlekitchen.net/how-to-make-homemade-pasta-with-kitchenaid/
Having tried it myself, I personally find the food processor method for making the dough a bit quicker, but I have been using it for much longer and I'm well-practiced with it! I find the recipe needs adjusting to make the mix slightly wetter to work and a slightly larger batch is needed for the dough to knead properly in a standard KitchenAid 4.8L bowl. The pasta roller and cutter is undoubtedly fabulous though.
If you want to watch a fun how-to video with passion and all the essential details... Jamie Oliver's friend and Italian food guru, the wonderfully animated Gennaro Contaldo makes pasta dough "very romantic" right here: https://youtu.be/ESz55eORW44
and rolls and cuts it into taglierini right here: https://youtu.be/IKe3uatYLmo