For those of you who write me intrigued by the idea of cooking for the first time, I wanted to show you just how incredibly easy it can be. Since we are on an Italian kick lately, the best place to start would be the basic Italian staple: Fresh pasta. Homemade pasta has a unique flavor, texture, and element to it that even the best store bought boxed pastas can’t touch. Even better, you can modify and perfect your pasta dough recipe to reflect your own family’s tastes. I thought that I’d take an extra hour or so before dinner tonight and document the process to show you how it is done so you could try it yourself, in your own kitchen. This is one of those things that, if you get into it only once or twice, you spend the rest of your life thinking, “Why did I do this sooner?”.
[mainbodyad]To make fresh homemade pasta using the simplest, most traditional recipe, we need two things. These will vary depending on where you live, the temperature of your kitchen, the humidity in the air, and the particular chemistry of the eggs and flour you use.
2 large eggs
1 cup of flour
That’s it. I promise. I’m not going to throw you any curveballs. You can try the version that require olive oil, or that use a combination of whole eggs and egg yolks. For now, we’re sticking to the basics. These are the only two things you need to go get and put on your counter. Based on today’s prices at the grocery store, that is only $0.44 worth of ingredients. It will create 0.75 pounds of finished fresh homemade pasta dough, which is enough to feed two hungry men, three normal dinner portions for a family, or four appetizer portions, depending on the occasion, so divide appropriately to get the per-serving cost.
This pasta dough will work for all pasta shapes except enclosed pastas that need to be sealed, such as ravioli, in which case we would add 1/2 tablespoon of milk to the mix to make it stickier. As you make your pasta dough, if you find it too dry, you can either add a tiny bit of water to it to introduce more moisture, or an additional egg. Likewise, if it is still too wet by the dough ball stage, you can keep adding flour until your thumb comes out of the dough ball clean with no dough stuck to it. The exact process will never be quite the same, even if you hold all controllable conditions constant. You have to go by the feel of the pasta itself.
At this stage, you are going to knead your pasta dough. Using the base of the palms of your hands (not fingers), press forward into the dough. Then, rotate it 1/4th degree clockwise or counterclockwise (just by consistent), fold the dough in half over itself, and press into it it with the base of your palms, again. Continue this process, rotating the dough and folding it, after every knead. Continue this for eight minutes. When finished, your dough should look smooth and beautiful.
Almost all of you are going to be using some sort of pasta maker for your fresh pasta. If you want to try the completely, old-school, do-it-all-by-hand method I used the other day for the butter and sage sauce pasta, you would wrap the pasta dough in plastic foil and put aside for fifteen minutes to let the gluten rest. There are plenty of videos online that show the hand technique. You might want to learn it, but you won’t use it very often. I try to keep up on it just in case I find myself in a situation where I’m at someone’s home or don’t have a machine handy. It’s so much easier with the pasta machine, though, so we can continue on to the next step.
This particular batch of homemade spaghetti is destined for a smothered onions sauce I promised to make. Good luck! Maybe some time in the future, I’ll post pictures of how to make the green spinach pasta. It’s not hard, either. You can do this. Don’t be intimidated by it. It’s two ingredients. If you screw it up, you’re only out 44¢. Then, you can try, again. That’s the beautiful part of it. It’s the perfect way to slowly introduce better living to your kitchen.