Home made pasta might seem like an unnecessary task these days, especially when every supermarket sells fresh pasta of all shapes and sizes – seriously why would you? but it is so easy to do and such a great way to spend and afternoon/morning – a real labour of love. The end result far surpasses the ‘fresh pasta’ you find on the supermarket shelves! It may be messy, it may take some time and be warned, the light, silky, velvety texture of homemade pasta will spoil you forever – dried pasta will be relegated to emergency use only!
If you have a good basic recipe (see my recipe here) you can also have fun with it: by adding different vegetable purées you can produce pasta of all colours – as if fresh pasta wasn’t enough wow factor!
It really is very simple – just 3 basic ingredients: Flour, Eggs, Olive oil (oh and a pinch of salt!) To speed things up a food processor and a pasta rolling machine will help – but many people prefer to do it by hand and that is easy enough too.
The pasta dough can be made with 3 different flour types: 1. fine semolina mixed with plain white flour, which produces a lovely golden yellow pasta with a slightly gritty texture. – great for sauces to stick too, but not so great for ravioli or lasagne which should be silky smooth. 2. Plain white flour, sieved several times to lighten the texture or my personal favourite choice 3.Italian 00 flour, often available in larger supermarkets. This flour has been milled very finely and produces a very soft smooth pasta.
Before you roll your pasta you must decide about how you will dry it after it is shaped. Hanging is the traditional method for which you will need a suitable ‘pasta tree’ or something similar or you can flour the cut pasta and form into loose nests. Another way is to lay individually on flat trays covered in grease proof.
Food Processor Method:
Place all the ingredients in the the bowl of the food mixer or processor and ‘pulse’ the machine until the mixture forms a ball.
Empty out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until the dough ‘gives’ and becomes elastic and smooth. Roll into a ball, cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least an hour. Your dough is made!
Place the flour and salt in a mound on your work surface and make a well in the center. Pour the lightly beaten eggs and oil into the well and either using a fork or your hands draw the flour from the outside into the middle mixing with the eggs until all the flour has been incorporated. Shape into a ball and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge.
Rolling out with a pasta machine
Once the dough has rested, take a 50g piece and shape into a rectangle about 2 cm thick and dust both sides lightly with flour. With the rollers at their widest setting run the dough through. Fold the dough in 3 lengthwise and repeat at that setting 2 more times.
Next, narrow the rollers down a notch and continue to feed the pasta through the machine. No need to fold now but be careful to keep the pasta floured to prevent it sticking to the rollers. Continue through the settings – the pasta will get thinner and longer with each rolling. Continue until you have reached the required thickness – about 3 notchs from the end for spaghetti and tagliatelle, and a little thicker for lasagne.
Put the appropiate attachment on the machine for your desired shape, feed through and carefully hang your pasta to dry in individual pieces until ready to use.
Rolling by hand
Once rested take a 50gm piece of dough and place on a lightly floured board. Using a rolling pin and starting at the center roll the pasta out towards the edges. Keep turning and rolling to stretch the dough, not allowing it to stick to the work surface or rolling pin. Every now and then let it rest a while to settle and then continue to roll again. Roll to the required thickness and cut with a pasta cutter or sharp knife to the required shape. Store very carefully dusted with flour to dry until ready to use.
Add boiling water to a large pan, add salt and carefully drop the pasta into the water. Swirl it around and cook for 4 minutes. Check the pasta, it should have a slight ‘bite’ and drain. Serve immediately.