Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fresh Pasta

My dad served an LDS mission in Italy, so italian food has always been extra special in our family. For this recipe you probably want a pasta roller, you can roll it out by hand, but it doesn't get as thin.

Our family used fresh pasta most for chicken soup and raviolis. For the raviolis just food process tasty things together--cheese, sausage, spinach, ricotta, italian spices, onions, mushrooms, whatever. And fill them up.

This recipe is just approximate. Like most things we make, measurements are approximate. The process is fun and rewarding, but labor intensive, I won't lie to you. It is easier to make a box of macaroni. But, that doesn't taste half as good, and you can't have your kids in the kitchen helping you make pasta bow ties!

The method of mixing is traditional, and always how dad does it. Be ready to get a little messy.

Fresh Pasta
4 eggs
approximately 3 cups flour (semolina is nice, but all-purpose works just fine)

On the counter make a little mound of flour with the salt mixed in. Create a little bowl in the mound so that you have a wide volcano of flour.

Beat up the eggs and add a little water. Pour the eggs into the volcano and start whipping your fork around in the egg mixture. This will slowly grab flour from the edges of your volcano, and the mixture will slowly get thicker. If you mix too vigorously the egg will just break through your walls and pour all over the counter. It is really hard to mix it by hand that way. Once your egg mix is sufficiently thick that it won't ooze everywhere, start mixing the flour into it by hand. Only add as much flour as you need. Keep adding flour and kneading till you have a firm not-sticky dough. On a floured counter knead the dough till it is smooth. We want lots of gluten forming!

Ideally you should be able to make a "window" with a bit of the dough. Just take a piece, and wiggly it around till you stretch it out and you have a transparent bit. That means the dough has formed enough gluten and the noodles will have a good authentic texture to them.

After you are done cover the dough with a bowl and let it rest for 30 minutes. Then put it through your pasta maker, or roll it out 1/8" thick, and cut it into pasta.

Bowl in salted water until the pasta is al dente. It should only take about 3 minutes. You can also dry the pasta and freeze it, and use it later. Just put the cut pasta on a rack and let it dry, make sure they don't stick together.

Serve with pesto, tomato sauce, browned butter and walnuts, or in chicken noodle soup.

here is a video with the mixing method I described. Dad also likes to add olive oil to the dough sometimes. Beautiful!

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