Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adventures In Fresh Pasta!

I decided to make fresh pasta this past weekend for two reasons.  First, I've wanted to try my hand at making fresh pasta for a while--especially after fantastic dinners at Dino's and Argia's.  On top of that, I purchased eggs from the farmer's market for the first time two weeks ago.  I wanted to make a recipe that featured them but without just having plain eggs.  I thought I'd "double dose" the recipe by making fresh pasta (which includes eggs) to use in Spaghetti alla Carbonara.  (That recipe will soon follow... I thought this one was long enough as it is!)


Moving on.


Making fresh pasta was a little labor intensive, especially since I don't have a pasta rolling machine), but the process itself was pretty simple.


The only ingredients you need are eggs, flour, and salt.  I also used a little olive oil and water.




Pour 2 c. of flour and about a 1 tsp of salt into a bowl.  Mix them together and make a well in the center of the flour.  Crack 2 eggs into a separate bowl and lightly beat them with 1 tsp. olive oil.  Pour the egg/olive oil mixture into the center of the well.




Use a fork to mix together the eggs, gradually incorporating more and more flour from the sides of the well.




Keep mixing until you have a sticky, shaggy mess of eggy flour.  If it seems really dry, add the water a little bit at a time.  (I ended up adding a little less than 1/4 cup.)




Press the dough together into a ball.




If you're ambitious, knead the dough for 4-6 minutes with the heel of your hand.  If you're lazy (like me), throw it into your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment and turn it on medium speed for 4-6 minutes.




Once the dough has been kneaded and is pretty smooth, wrap it up in saran wrap and toss it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax.  Mmm, gluten...




When it comes out, it will look something like this.




Lightly flour a pastry board, cutting board, or your counter.  I used a silpat.  Cut your dough into two or three pieces and lay one chunk out on your floured board.




I hand-rolled my pasta with a rolling pin.  Roll it as thin as you can, pick it up and flip it over, and do it again.  Try to keep the dough even--you may even want to hold it up to the light to see if there are any thick spots you need to even out.  




LOOSELY roll up the dough.




And, using a sharp knife, cut the rolls into thin strips.  I like thin pasta, so mine were probably about 1/4" wide--which, I believe, makes them fettuccine.  If you cut them wider--1" or so--you have tagliatelle.  Or, you could make them 2-3 inches wide and have lasagna noodles.






Unfold the strips and hang them up to dry.  Note: If your rolls were too tight, you're going to have a hard time with unfolding them.  Honestly, next time I do this I'd bring in a partner simply to help unroll and hang the pasta.  


I used clothes hangers to hang my pasta, but I hear that a clothes drying rack or a broom handle wrapped in saran wrap and draped over two chairs works as well.  Let the dough hang dry for 2-3 hours before cooking the pasta.  




To cook: bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Once the water is boiling, add a large pinch of salt.  Boil the pasta for 1-2 minutes until al dente.  Serve with your favorite sauce.


Extra pasta can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.






Fresh Pasta:


2 c. flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 c. water


Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl.  Create a well in the center.


In a separate bowl, crack the eggs.  Lightly beat the eggs with the olive oil.  


Pour the egg/oil mixture into the well in the flour.  Using a fork (or your fingers), begin incorporating the flour into the eggs/oil.  Continue incorporating the flour until you have a shaggy mess of dough.  If the dough looks too dry, add some water.


Press the shaggy dough into a ball.  Knead (by hand or using the dough hook of your stand mixer) for 4-6 minutes.  Cover in saran wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.


Cut the dough into 2-3 pieces.  Lightly flour a cutting board or clean counter space.  Add a piece of dough and roll out as thinly as possible with a rolling pin.  Periodically flip the dough over and continue rolling.  Hold the dough up to the light to ensure there are no thick spots.


When the dough is to your desired thickness, loosely roll it up.  Cut it cross-wise into thin bands (about 1/4" wide for fettuccine).  Unroll each band and hang dry for 3 hours or more.



To cook: bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.  Once the water is boiling, add a large pinch of salt.  Boil the pasta for 1-2 minutes until al dente.  Serve with your favorite sauce.


Extra pasta can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator or freezer.







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