Pasta Making 101

Well, I always said I would never make my own pasta because — why bother?

pasta

I mean, it is super simple to buy a box of pasta for a dollar or two. This box is about $1.29 at our local Wal-Mart. They also have organic versions for a few cents more.

So why bother making my own pasta?

It’s not like we have pasta all that often. Maybe once every two weeks or so when I’m in a hurry to get dinner on the table before we have to be at a karate class or some other kid event. Or if someone requests my vegetarian lasagna for their birthday.

I kinda stumbled into pasta making when I was shopping at our local Dirt Cheap. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s a place where merchandise that was not sold in other stores goes before it gets trashed or donated. In other words, its very hit and miss as to what you will find.

Seriously, this is what the shelves sometimes look like:

Dirt Cheap

One day John was shopping in there just wandering around and spied this:

KitchenAid Pasta Attachment

It was a Kitchen Aid pasta attachment that was marked $99.00. One great thing about this store is very few things cost what the marked price is. Most things are at least 50 percent off. This little gem was 60% off, which made it only $40. Compare the cost at Kohl’s ($249.99) and you can see what a deal it was.

He called me and asked me if I might like one sometime. I said of course, not knowing for sure if he got it or not. He bought it, he saved it, and I opened it up on Christmas morning. He told my son what he got me and Mark made me a terrific pasta drying rack. I was set.

Mark and Me Pasta Drying RackS

My first attempt went great. The pasta was silky, tasted terrific and made us all realize there really isn’t any comparison between store bought and homemade fresh pasta. I found it really easy to do, probably because I have so much experience with bread making. The feel of the pasta dough is different than bread dough but the process is similar.

Of course you can make pasta by hand as well. But this way is definitely faster and probably easier, although more expensive in terms of equipment. . .

I used my KitchenAid mixer to mix up the dough but mixing it by hand would be simple as there isn’t a ton of kneading required.

I found that if you use room temperature eggs the dough seems easier to work with. If you forget, no worries, just put the eggs in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes. Warms them right up.

Quick tip for warming up eggs

The dough should be firm but pliable. The second time I made the dough it was a bit dry so I just threw some drops of hot water on it and kneaded it again until it was the right consistency.

Pasta Dough in Bowl

 

You need to let the dough rest for about 20 to 30 minutes. I like to cut it into the right sized pieces to go through the pasta attachment and let it rest instead of cutting the dough in pieces after it has rested. Personal preference.

Resting pasta dough

 

Then just flatten the dough and put it through the machine. The process is similar with a hand cranked machine like the popular Atlas.

Pasta dough going through machine

Keep rolling it through, gradually reducing the space between the rollers until you have it as thin as you want. If you are making lasagna, stop on the number 3. For pasta, I like number 3.

Thin pasta dough

I was making fettucine, so I switched the attachment to the cutting blade and ran it through again. Like magic, perfect pasta.

Fettuccine pasta homemade

Then you put it right into the boiling water for a few minutes and you are done! If making lasagna, cook the noodles for 30 seconds and then use them. If you put freshly rolled lasagna right into the pan, it will absorb too much sauce.

And once you have it cooked, enjoy!

Homemade Pasta Noodles

Here’s the recipe I use. I usually use a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour and sometimes splurge on semolina flour.

Ingredients

  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 50g margarine
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 Medium eggs
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200g chocolate

Optional

  • sugar (a sprinkling for a crunchy top)

Directions

Step 1
Place the flour and caster sugar into a bowl and create a well in the middle for the other ingredients.

Mix the eggs, vanilla extract, milk and margarine and then pour it into the bowl with the dry ingredients.

Mix well until it is lump free and then break the chocolate into small pieces and add them.
Step 2
Pour the muffin mixture into a muffin tin filling each mould up to two thirds full.

Place a block of chocolate into the middle of each muffin. Then sprinkle some sugar over the top of each.
Step 3
Cook for around 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 200ºC / 390ºF / gas mark 5. After 18 minutes or so check to see if they are cooked enough.

Insert a knife into one of the muffins and if no mixture is on the knife then they are cooked!

Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before eating.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this pasta making 101 post. If you have any questions or have any tips, I’d love to hear them. Happy pasta making! Diane

2 thoughts on “Pasta Making 101

  1. mandy cat says:

    Hmmmm, I may have to revisit the Dirt Cheap that opened near us last year. I raced through at top speed because I seemed to see more “dirt” than “cheap.” If the prices displayed may not be the actual cost, it’s worth another look. Thanks!

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