Yes! Pasta again. I keep writing about pasta, but making your own is so easy, the recipe is so forgiving and versatile, and the results are simply amazing. I’ve given a few pasta recipes before, so this time I’m going to write more of a pasta-recipe tutorial, rather than a straight recipe. Adjust it to fit your needs!
Pasta Tutorial: Ingredients
Simple, nutritious pasta can be made with nothing more than flour, eggs and a bit of salt. So start there.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 or 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
I usually use half white flour and half whole wheat flour, since we like a like the wheaty flavor, but if you’re used to white pasta, go ahead and make your first batch with just white flour. You’ll be amazed at the difference between what you’ve made and store-bought! Also, remember that most store bought pasta is just flour and water; adding eggs makes for a whole new experience and 6 grams of protein per, means you’re adding 12-18 grams of protein to dinner on pasta night!
A dash of olive oil can go along way toward making your pasta easier to knead and roll out, so why not throw that in?
- dash of olive oil
Now, you have some choices. The ingredients above will make a great meal, however, if you have kids like mine, you might want to hide some veggies puree in there. Simply steam your veggies until they’re soft and puree them (add a little bit of the water you used to steam them in to the puree if it’s too thick). You want about 1 cup of puree to replace 1 egg.
Suggested purees (the color will fade a bit during cooking):
- Green Pasta: Spinach, kale, and/or chard
- Orange pasta: carrots, butternut squash or tomatoes
- Pink/red pasta: beets, beets & carrots
Pasta Tutorial: Supplies
I make pasta with my food processor, stand mixer and pasta machine, but all you really need is a floured surface, a rolling pin and a knife. Once you’ve cut it up you’ll want a place to let it rest until you cook it, or to dry completely if you’re planning on freezing it for later. You can use a pasta drying rack, a floured cookie sheet or a simply run a string across your kitchen to hang the pasta on.
- Mixing: Food Processor or fork
- Kneading: Stand Mixer with dough hook or hands
- Rolling: Pasta Machine* or rolling pin
- Cutting: Pasta Machine attachment, knife, pastry wheel* or pizza cutter
- Drying: Pasta rack*, string, cookie rack* or floured surface
Pasta Tutorial: Process
- Food processor with blade inserted: put your flour in, crack your eggs on top, add salt, olive oil (optional) & puree (optional), and pulse until it is mixed and crumbly but not yet a single dough ball.
- Fork: put mix flour and salt in a bowl, then slowly add eggs (1 at a time), olive oil (optional) and puree (optional) using the fork to mix the wet ingredients into the dry. When it gets too thick, switch to mixing by hand.
- Once your dough is mixed knead (in stand mixer or by hand on a floured surface) it for a few minutes. If it seems sticky add some flour, if too dry add a touch of water (a little goes a long way!).
- Form dough into a ball and cut into fourths. Wrap each piece in cling wrap (you can freeze it or refrigerate it at this point if you want dough handy on another day) or place on a plate and cover with an inverted bowl (greener method!). Let rest for twenty minutes.
- Dust a surface like a cutting board or cookie sheet with a bit of flour. Working with one-fourth of the pasta (1 piece from above) at a time, press the dough into a flattened, rectangular piece with your hands. Run it through your pasta machine (for my Atlas I run it through 5 times, starting at setting 1 and ending with 5–going further makes it too thin to handle in my experience) or roll to about 1/8″ thickness with your rolling pin.
- Pasta Machine Method: run the dough through the attachment of your choice, easy-peasy!
- Knife/pastry cutter/pizza cutter: make sure both sides of your sheet of dough are well floured so the pieces don’t stick together
- Fettuccine: cut 1/4″ wide strips the length of your dough, or make sure your sheets are well floured, fold in thirds and slice through then toss with your fingers (add more flour if you need to).
- Bow-tie: cut sheet into 2″ by 1″ rectangles, pinch in the middle to make a bow
- Filled Pasta: cut sheets into squares, fill with your favorite filling and fold into triangles (more here on filling pasta, and a bonus on that post, a simple cheese recipe!)
- Fettuccine or other “stringy” (as my daughter calls it) pasta can be hung up to rest/dry on a pasta rack or string, or just tossed with extra flour and spread on a cookie sheet
- Bow-tie pasta can go on a floured cookie sheet or a cookie drying rack (especially if you’re drying to store)
If you’re cooking your pasta the same day you make it, you can cook it right away or let it rest as long as you want (nice if you want to make it in the morning for that evening’s dinner) it won’t need to be covered in the mean time. If you want to store the pasta, make sure it dries completely (so it breaks rather than bends when you fold it) before storing. It can stay in the fridge for a day or two, or be frozen for (days, weeks, years? I’m always a little unsure of just how long something can be in the freezer–if it’s been a year, I usually toss it!). I wrap it in plastic wrap and stick in a ziploc…not a green choice, but I don’t know another way..would foil do the trick? Cooking: Pretty simple: boil a large pot of water, place pasta in a colander and gently slide pasta into the water from the colander, then cover pot until water returns to a boil (I kind of tilt the lid a bit so the steam can escape and it doesn’t boil over). Once the water is boiling leave the lid off and check the pasta every thirty seconds (pull a piece and bite into it) to see if it is done. It will cook in just a few minutes (2-3)! If you’re using frozen pasta the method is the same (no defrosting necessary) and it will only need to cook for a few extra minutes.