Handmade Pasta

Now that I am getting back into the swing of school I am having less time to cook dinner.  Lately I have been eating sandwiches or Ramen (eek!) because I have zero time to prepare a nice meal.  So today I set out to make a bunch of batches of handmade pasta to freeze for those days when I want a nice meal with no time to make it.  Handmade pasta is incredibly easy to make no matter how scary it sounds!  You can use a rolling pin if you don’t have a pasta machine, just be sure to roll it very thin.  I have included many, many pictures to demonstrate each step.

This recipe makes about 1/2 pound of pasta.

1 cup semolina flour
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil

All purpose flour can be substituted, though semolina is traditionally used to make pasta.  It has a higher protein content to create a stronger gluten bond, and therefore makes it more flexible.

There are a couple ways to make the dough.  The exciting way, which involves mixing right on the counter, the cleaner way, where you mix it in a bowl, and the easy peasy way, mixing it with a KitchenAid.  Of course I chose the exciting way (mostly because the other two methods involve making dirty dishes!).  Make a well in your flour large enough for the egg, salt, and oil.

Gently scramble the egg with the oil and salt without pulling in flour.  If you would feel more comfortable, the egg can be scrambled in a separate bowl and poured into the well.  Be sure to mix completely so there are no clumps or white or yellow.  Should the well break at any point, don’t panic.  You can still continue to make the pasta and it will come out just fine.
Once the egg is mixed, pull in some flour from around the outside of the well, keeping the bowl still intact.
Continue slowly pulling in the flour until the egg mixture gets clumpy.
Time to get your hands dirty!  Pull flour up completely over the egg mixture.
Mix with your fingers the egg and flour together in a clumpy mass.  Pull away some of the extra flour and save for dusting or adding to the dough.
If you need to moisten the dough, add 1 tbs of water at a time to the dough.  If you need to make the dough less sticky, add more flour.  Form the dough into a ball.
Knead the dough by pushing the heal of your hand forward.  Fold back the dough in half and push forward again.  This helps to trap air into the dough.  Do this for 8-10 minutes.  Do not skimp on this step as this is where the gluten bonds are formed.
Once the dough has formed a soft ball, let it rest under plastic wrap for at least 30 minutes.
Set up your pasta machine.  I use a Roma Pasta Machine.  A rolling pin will work just the same.
Cut a small chunk off the ball of dough and flatten with your hand.  Roll it out on the widest setting of your machine.
When the sheet gets long fold it into 3 and continue rolling.  Each pass through the roller fold the sheet in half or thirds.  Slowly decrease the widths of your roller to make the pasta thinner.  My roller goes from 1-7 (thin-thick).  I often stop at number 2 for all pastas other than ravioli where I bring it down to 1.

While rolling out all the dough, let the sheets lay out and flip them occasionally to let air get to both sides evenly.

These sheets can be used for lasagna!

To make Fettuccine and Spaghetti:

Take a sheet of pasta and square it by trimming off the edge.  Place the cut side in your attachment and roll the dough through.  If you do not have a machine, a pizza cutter can be used to cut your pasta.

To make Farfalle:

Take a sheet of pasta and cut into 1 by 1 1/2 inch rectangles.  Place your pointer finger in the middle of the rectangle with your thumb and middle finger on the sides.  Slowly pull your fingers together to fold up the dough around your pointer finger.
Remove your finger and continue to pinch firmly together.
To make Garganelli:
Cut your pasta sheet into 1 by 1 inch squares.  Beat an egg and put a little drop on one corner of your square.  On the opposite side, take a clean pen and fold the dough around.
Roll the pen down to the egg and press firmly to seal shut.
 Let your pasta dry on a cooling rack, pasta rack, or plastic coat hangers.
Cooking handmade pasta is much different than cooking pasta from the box.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  The pasta only has to cook for about 3 minutes, or until it floats to the top.  It does not have be dried to be cooked.
To store the pasta let it dry completely.  Even if it feels dry, the inside may be wet.  It should sit out for about 2-3 days.  Damp pasta can become moldy.  Once it is completely dry, place the pasta in a ziplock bag or plastic container.  It can be stored for several months this way.  To freeze the pasta, portion out the fresh (not dried) pasta and freeze individually.  It can stay in the freezer for several months.  Frozen pasta can he added straight to boiling water.  I think frozen pasta maintains it’s form and flavor better than dried pasta.

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