If you’ve never made pasta from scratch and have only ever eaten the dry noodles that you boiled for ten minutes then you are in for a treat! Not only is making your own pasta super easy, it is also super cheap! Just a little bit of flour and an egg can feed up to two people (or one if you are a pasta lover like Neal or I). I learned how to cook pasta in 2014 during a cooking class held at The Flavor Exchange in downtown Southern Pines, North Carolina. It was great fun and gave me a skill I’ve used regularly since then. Below is a picture of two of my dearest friends and I during that event.
It was requested that I share the method of making pasta during a online social media discussion and so here it is.
PASTA FOR TWO
1 cup of all-purpose flour plus extra for rolling
one large egg
medium mixing bowl
pasta maker (Note that you can still make pasta if you don’t have a pasta maker. You will just need to be able to roll out the dough thin enough and cut in the shape of your liking with the tools available in your kitchen.)
STEP ONE: MAKE YOUR DOUGH
Place one cup of flour in a medium sized mixing bowl. Make a indentation in the center of the flour mound and in it place one egg.
Using a dinner fork, beat the egg while keeping it in the center of the flour mound. Gradually beat in the flour a little at a time. Your mixture will start to have a custard-like texture and appearance. Ultimately, you want to get as much of the flour mixed in with the egg as possible, but in order to do this you must add the flour very gradually. If you try to rush the process you’ll end up with very sticky dough that is impossible to roll out without making a mess.
Once your dough starts to thicken enough that it is sticking to the fork it is time to get your hands dirty and knead your dough by hand. Just like with yeast bread dough, the kneading helps gluten strands form and in this case helps work additional flour into the dough by exposing sticky areas. I like to fold it in half then press it down with the back of hand, but anyway that works for you works for the dough. Keep doing this until sticky parts no longer develop when you press the dough. You’ll end up with a nice, smooth, round ball of dough.
STEP TWO: REST THE DOUGH
Place your ball of dough in a plastic sandwich bag or wrap in cellophane. Let your dough rest undisturbed for thirty minutes to an hour. I strive for that full hour as it gives plenty of time for those gluten strands to form which are what will help stretch the dough out into two servings of spaghetti. If you start rolling out the dough before these strands have formed you’ll end up with a grainy dough that breaks apart instead of stretching.
STEP 3: ROLL OUT THE DOUGH
After your dough has rested, knead it a few times to access how sticky it is. You are preparing the dough to go through your pasta maker (or be rolled out onto your counter top) so you want the dough to be of a consistency that will not stick to your tools. Cleaning dough out of a pasta roller is no fun! Press the dough into a rectangular shape and add flour to the surface of your dough as needed.
Roll this dough through the widest setting on your roller. For my Mercato Atlas Wellness 150 that is a zero setting. Do this two or three times adding flour as needed to cover any sticky areas that appear.
Once you are happy with the texture and are confident it will not stick to your tools, roll it through your next setting. At this point you should be able to roll your dough through a setting one time, dusting with flour as needed between settings. For my particular pasta maker I usually stop at the setting of 6 or 7 depending on how thin I want my pasta for the particular dish I’m making. As you progress in settings your dough will start to become quite long and cumbersome to handle. I like to use the pastry knife to cut the dough into sizes comparable to commercial spaghetti length. I usually do this around the 4th or 5th setting and then roll each piece out separately.
If at any point in this process your dough becomes sticky or sticks to itself you’ll need to either pull it apart if you can or run it through that setting again with a good dusting of flour. Don’t worry if this happens to you. Pasta dough is very forgiving and there isn’t much you can do to mess it up. Even if you had to ball it all up and start over again, it will still result in a delicious product. In the picture below the end of one of my pieces has stuck together. I was able to pull it apart this time and simply run it through again with enough flour to prevent sticking a second time.
Once your dough has reached a thickness that fits your liking it is time to cut it into your desired shape. My pasta maker has settings for spaghetti or fettuccine and both are great. This time I opted for spaghetti. Before you run your pasta through the shape rollers, make sure you have a plate ready to catch your cut pasta as well as some extra flour to toss with it to prevent sticking. Because I’ve already cut the pasta to length I don’t need to worry about cutting it as it comes out of the shape roller, but you’ll need to do that if you’ve kept your dough in one piece. Pasta that sits on a plate, pilled high will stick and form globs of dough instead of maintaining the delicate, thin noodles so try to space your pasta out on the plate as well.
STEP FOUR: COOK YOUR PASTA
Once you’ve gotten all of your pasta rolled out place it in a large pot of boiling water. I try to start a pot of water midway through the rolling process so that as soon as my pasta is cut I can put in the pot. It only takes two to three minutes to cook fresh pasta. Once cooked, strain your pasta, and top with your favorite sauce. I recommend adding the sauce shortly after straining in order to prevent the pasta from sticking.
STEP FIVE: ENJOY!
The hard work is done and now it is time to enjoy! The taste of fresh pasta is well worth the extra time and effort you’ve put in. This recipe has room for extra flavor as well. Add your favorite fresh or dried herbs to the dough in the first mixing steps. An Italian herb blend or crushed red pepper are just a few tasty addition options. It is also possible to dry this pasta recipe for use later though I have not tried it myself as of this posting.
I hope this blog was helpful and you feel inspired to give fresh pasta a try yourself. I promise you won’t regret it!
Happy homesteading and God bless!