This 101 on homemade pasta comes from HOMEGROWN member Jannine, a master gardener who writes about coaxing mega veggies out of Santa Fe’s challenging soil in her blog, Giant Veggie Gardener. Thanks, Jannine—and keep the ideas coming!
What does homemade pasta have to do with gardening? Nothing! But a gardener’s got to do something in the dead of winter, and I wanted to try out the pasta machine I got as a birthday gift back in June—a chrome Atlas 150. Plus, homemade pasta sounded like a great complement to the spaghetti sauce I canned last fall from all those tomatoes I grew. My pals Lava and Elodie helped me make it happen. We did many things wrong, and it still turned out great!
I used the following recipe from The Pasta Bible,
by Jeni Wright, a fantastic book with techniques
for making basic pasta, as well as ravioli and flavored pastas. A very inexpensive book and very inspirational!
Although the recipe calls for just three things—
eggs, flour, and salt—success depends on the quality of the ingredients, as well as the technique used for making the dough. Some people add 1 Tbsp olive oil, which gives the pasta a softer texture but is not essential. If you don’t have a pasta machine (easier), you can roll your pasta by hand (harder). A slideshow below illustrates many of the steps.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
» 2 3/4 cups flour (best is Farina Tipo 00, which is finer than regular flour and available at Italian specialty stores or online; second best is bread flour; third best is all purpose)
» 3 fresh eggs
» 1 tsp salt
WHAT TO DO
1. Mound the flour on a cutting board; make a well in the center of the flour; crack the eggs into the well; and, with a knife or fork, add the eggs, salt, and oil, if using.
2. Start incorporating the flour into the center of the well, trying not to break the sides of the well. Of course when we did it, the well broke, and it was a mess—but not the end of the world!
3. As soon as the mixture is no longer runny, work in the ingredients using your fingers until the mix becomes rough and sticky. Scrape any dough that sticks to the board and add it to the blob. If the consistency is too dry, add a few drops of cold water; if too moist, add a little flour. We had to add more water, but ultimately it looked and felt like dough.
4. Press the dough into a rough ball and knead as you would bread; fold the end of the dough over on itself and continue kneading, pushing the dough a little farther away from you as you work. Give the dough a quarter turn and keep kneading for 5 minutes more if you’ll be using a pasta machine (10 minutes more if you’re making the pasta by hand), turning one-quarter rotation each time. The dough should be smooth. This kneading time is important for the pasta to end up light and silky.
5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature. After this, it’s ready to roll out by hand or put into the machine. (Ours looked great! What a surprise!)
6. Directions from here on assume you’re using a pasta machine. Take your dough out of the plastic wrap and cut it into quarters. Adjust the machine to its widest setting (for us, this was #1) and sprinkle the rollers lightly with flour. Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time and leaving the rest in plastic wrap, flatten the dough into a rectangle shape with lightly floured hands and feed it through the machine.
7. Fold the dough into thirds and repeat this process 5 more times.
8. Turn the roller setting one notch tighter (for us, this was #2) and feed the dough through again, this time unfolded. Tighten the roller setting another notch (for us, #3) and keep running the dough through once per setting until you reach the highest setting (#6 for us). Be sure to flour the rollers periodically so the dough doesn't stick. Each time you tighten the setting, the pasta gets longer and longer, ultimately reaching about 3 feet in length. At some point, you may want to cut the dough in half for ease of handling—not to mention eating. I was imagining slurping up a 2-foot piece of linguine!
9. Once the dough has been rolled, it’s ready to be cut into your desired shape. At this point, remove the stretching rollers from your pasta machine and insert the cutting roller. Sprinkle the cutters with flour and run the pasta through. My machine has settings for fettuccine and spaghetti width. (You can also cut the pasta by hand to make other shapes). Run the dough through the cutting rollers, catching and supporting the cut pieces as they come out the other end.
10. Toss the cut noodles with a little flour so they don’t stick together and spread them out on a clean dishtowel to dry. You can also use a pasta dryer (it looks a little like a clothes line) if you want your noodles to dry perfectly flat
11. Let the noodles dry while you process the other ¾ of your dough; then let all
of the pasta sit out for at least 2 hours or until it dries completely.
12. You can store your pasta in a paper bag for 3 to 4 days or freeze it in plastic freezer bags for up to a month.
13. When you’re ready to cook the pasta, simmer it just a few minutes, until it’s soft—maybe 3 to 5 minutes. Stupendo!
SEE THE PROCESS IN ACTION
To see image captions, mouse over the slideshow window and click on the "i" that pops up near the bottom right corner.
MORE FROM HOMEGROWN: PASTA SAUCE RECIPES
Looking for something equally HOMEGROWN to go on top of that pasta? HOMEGROWN member Lisa has a smart and easy recipe for no-cook Mason jar tomato sauce. Nancy offers another no-cook option, as well as a cooked version, and Cornelia shares a recipe for a roasted tomato sauce. Have your own favorite? Post a link in the comments section below.
Got a pasta puzzle for Jannine? Or a tip to share with fellow noodlers? Post it below and keep the conversation rolling! You might also be interested in a 101 on canning tomatoes, courtesy of Rachel from Dog Island Farm, and you can always find more things to cook, preserve, make, craft, plant, grow, and stretch in the HOMEGROWN 101 library.
ALL PHOTOS: JANNINE CABOSSEL
It has been my experience that homemade pasta does not break down like commercial pasta when it is frozen in soups. My minestrone soup is always better with homemade pasta. Once you make pasta at home it is hard to go back to commercial noodles. Thanks for sharing your experience.
I've had really good success using plain old All-purpose flour for pasta. If it's good enough for Mario Batali, it's good enough for me. Funny enough, I now have a ton of bread flour in the house. I didn't realize that it would be good for pasta.I'm looking forward to trying your recipe with it. Thanks!
Some of my sweetest memories of my Grandma's visits was her making chicken soup with homemade noodles. My hubby and I used to make them and then kind of stopped the practice. We have been talking about it again. Thanks for the nudge.
Janet: "Nudge" is HOMEGROWN's middle name!
NICE! Thanks for sharing! I've been eyeing one of those crank pasta makers for a few months now. We eat noodles like they're going out of style over here. I will definitely have to give it a try now :)
Thanks for sharing an easy and tried-and-true recipe and instructions! My husband and I had a granddaughter "help" us make noodles one day. After cutting them, we like to mound them gently in small piles. When I went to cook them, I realized our granddaughter didn't mound them "gently", but patted them "firmly". They were a little tricky to separate, but still tasted so good.