Introduction: Homemade Gourmet Fresh Pasta
Can't afford the price of fancy gourmet fresh pasta at your local purveyor of fine organic and whole earth foods anymore? Well, times are tough and you can either pass on a latte or give up on foods esssential for life.
So continue to sip your latte and enjoy making delicious homemade gourmet fresh pasta. You can even make it fancy in multiple colors.
Step 1: The Staff of Life - Pasta
Things you will need:
- All-purpose flour, can be organic or regular, whole wheat or not, bleached or unbleached, whatever you like
- optional - can also use semolina hard-durum flour (mix with equal parts of all-purpose flour) - It is a little harder to shop for but you can use only all-purpose flour. Premium pastas only use 100% semolina flour.
- eggs, white shell or brown, your preference
- optional - drop of oil, I've seen it in some recipes, doesn't really do much except if you add olive oil for some flavor/flavour
- a big bowl for mixing and kneading the ingredients.
- and a large working area if you are lucky.
Step 2: Colour My World
The natural color of homemade pasta is off-white to beige, a deeper shade or more yellowish if more egg yolks are added.
(When I cook, I don't really measure, hence I am not really a baker who needs exacting proportions. This recipe works on how the product feels and you might end up with a little more or less. Don't worry, leftovers are yummy and it is so easy to make another batch if you need more.)
For the coloring demonstrated here we will use:
Orange - 1/2 cup cooked sweet potatoes/yams/ or carrots
Green - 1/2 cup cooked spinach
For an extended palette of colors, you can try these to experiment with different foods for coloring. Do not use artifical coloring, it has no nutritional value.
Green - maybe try mashed peas, save the pesto and basil for finishing sauce and garnish
Red - tomato paste - ground up dried tomatoes
Black/Purple - squid ink, berry-based foods, red beets
Brown - chocolate, and if you want sweet dessert pasta in chocolate sauce
Yellow - saffron steeped liquid, curries
This is useful if you need certain colors for a dinner theme or that special game day to support your team colors.
Step 3: Prepwork
For the coloring ingredients, cook beforehand and let cool.
The spinach I used was half a box of frozen chopped spinach. You can use fresh spinach or canned. I sauteed the spinach in some olive oil and garlic. Do not worry about squeezing the juices out after cooking. Just add that to the mix. I then ran it through a blender to puree it.
I boiled the sweet potatoes in water until fork-tender. You can also use leftover baked yams. Mash them before you add to the mix. Pick out all of the burnt or blackened spots.
You do not need to add much of the coloring food. The pasta needs to be made mainly of flour so that it will hold together.
Step 4: Ready, Set, Mix
Place the flour or flour-mix, eggs, and a good pinch of salt into the mixing bowl. I do not have the room to spread it out on the counter in my small kitchen so I use a large bowl on a large cookie sheetpan to keep tidy.
The bowl is also good for containing the flour dust cloud as you continue to add to the mix.
You can use another pinch of salt unless your diet cuts down on your sodium intake.
Use 1 egg for each cup of flour. Eggs may be considered optional but will make the pasta dough harder to handle if left out as it will not be as elastic.
A cup of flour may be good for a serving. You will have to gauge how much you need to make. I've never really seen how much is needed to be equivalent to a box of store-bought pasta. This is great for leftovers anyway. You have to adjust for the wetness of the dough so you may end up with more or less when the dough is completed.
Step 5: Time to Make the Doughnuts...
For a colorful pasta, add the coloring ingredient to the eggs, flour, and salt. The liquid from the mash should be all you need. You will probably need to add more flour to help dry out the mix.
You can get your hands dirty at the start and dig in to mix or start out using a heavy spoon.
Mix until you get some good chunks of dough and the eggs have congealed into bits and pieces. You can now add a few more drops of water to incorporate all of the loose flour into semi-dry globs that look like giant eraser crumbs. It is now ready to form into a ball.
Start pressing with the heel of your hand to press all the bits into a single dough ball.
Fold over and press. Gather up loose bits and fold into the ball. Continue to do this until all of the loose flour is incorporated.
You can add more flour and dust your hands or the ball if it sticks. You can also add a drop more of water if it is getting too dry.
Continue to knead until you feel the dough ball is smooth and elastic when it is pressed and it requires no more dry flour to spread.
Cover with plastic wrap and throw it in the fridge to chill out. Give it a few hours if you can. This makes it easier for the dough to go through the machine by firming it up a bit and letting the dough relax.
Step 6: Pasta Machinery
For shaping the pasta I used a pasta machine with a cutter attachment. I prefer the hand-cranked one to the mixer-mounted motorized pasta machine because you can better control the pasta as it is rolled. Besides, if you have an eager little helper, let them crank away.
CAUTION: As with all machinery, understand its proper use. Keep all fingers away from the cutters, don't wear anything like a tie or wear long hair that can get caught in the machine. Have it clamped down or in a stable workplace. Don't stick your fingers in the rollers or cutters.
By the way, the best way to clean a pasta machine is to use compressed air. You are not supposed to wash it because the internal gears, rollers, and metal parts would probably rust and get further gummed up from the flour dust and water. Using a soft brush and a toothpick only cleans out the major chunks.
The As-seen-on-TV model does all the mixing and extrudes the pasta in one machine. I do not have that and do not know how well that works.
You can use a pie-roller or tortilla press to flatten out the pasta dough and then cut it with a knife. I think that is way more rustic than I want to get.
Step 7: Now It's Time to Make the Pasta...
Cut a chunk of pasta dough the size of your fist. When it gets rolled, it may get to an unmanageable length that you should cut down to size.
Dust the pasta dough and the machine with flour. Pass the dough through the roller at its lowest setting which gives the widest opening. Fold the dough in half and pass it through again. You can do this several times to get it to a rectangular width the size of the machine. You can see the pasta dough roll out smoother with each pass.
Next, set the rollers on a higher setting which decreases the thickness of the pasta. Find your preference with how thick you like your pasta. Contine to roll out your pasta dough. The piece of pasta gets longer as you decrease the thickness. Dust each piece as needed so it does not stick. You can lay out the rolled pieces or hang it on a clean dowel suspended between two chairs.
Step 8: Colour My Pasta...
In addition to making different colored pastas in a single color, you can also make multicolored pastas. Just place a different colored pasta on top of one another and run it through the rollers again. One side will have a different color than the other.
To get candy-striped pasta, connect alternating pieces of different colored pastas and then run it through the rollers. Use a drop of water painted on with your fingers to connect the pieces of pasta together if they do not stick.
Step 9: A Cut Above...
You are now ready to cut the pasta. This pasta machine has cutters for thick and thin noodles, the thin spaghetti (could be considered angel hair and not really spaghetti as it does not form round pasta) and linguine cutters.
After it goes through the cutters, you may need to separate the individual strands of pasta. Peel the strands apart.
If you are cooking this pasta later, be organized and gather all of your pasta to dry neatly without strands touching each other so it does not stick back into one big clump. You may need to dust with more flour to prevent sticking.
If you handle it gently, you can just pile it in a random mess after it is cut. It will separate if you are cooking it immediately.
Step 10: The Kitchen Is Getting Hot...
Bring a big pot of water to the boil. If you are cooking a lot, you should have second cooking pot of water also on the boil. The water gets cloudy and gummy after a big batch because of all the loose flour. Switch to the next pot to cook so it does not slow down the process.
You can add additional salt to the water and a drop of oil if you like. The salt increases the boiling temperature for better cooking and taste. The oil helps to lubricate the pasta and keep it from sticking together. It sometimes helps with controlling the boil-over when it all foams up with the boiling starches in the water.
Gently place the fresh pasta into the boiling water. When the pot comes back up to the boil and all of the pasta is floating at the top, check to see if this is how you like your pasta, al dente. If not, let it cook for a few more minutes.
Fresh pasta will cook way faster than the dried kind.
You can rinse the pasta to get rid of excess starch from cooking if desired.
Adorn with your favorite sauce.
Serve hot or cold and use like regular pasta.
Step 11: Good Eats
So, leftover uncooked fresh pasta may keep a few days covered in the fridge. This stuff is so good, we've never had a chance to dry it and use for later.
After you rolled the pasta, there are other shapes you can experiment with. Use the entire pasta strip for lasagne or making ravioli. Cut into pieces for rolled stuffed cheese manicotti. Cut into pieces and pinch in the middle to make bow-ties.
A good way to learn Italian is to research and name all of the different varieties and shapes that pasta can be made into.
For Asian flair, this pasta when rolled very thin is great to use for making your won-tons, egg roll wrappers, noodles, dim sum and shu mai. You can boil, steam or fry. Use rice flour, soy flour or other ingredients to do even more.
Roll a piece of orange-yellow pasta to use in Robo-oli or just regular ravioli. Of course, you would need to create a set of mini-Instructables-Robot ravioli cutters.
Many of us have a passion for pasta. Enjoy!
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