If you think grocery store pasta is a cheap way to eat or feed your hungry family — make a batch of fresh pasta and it goes from cheap to frugal in one swift motion. And not just frugal — but frugal, fun, and fantastic.
- 3 1/2 c flour. — wheat, not whole wheat. Durham Semolina with Italian 00 bread flour is best — or King Arthur’s Perfect Pasta Blend…. But the truth is, bread flour or all-purpose flour will do just fine
- 4-5 large or extra-large whole eggs at room temp
- 1 t kosher flake salt. Don’t use iodized salt — it gives the pasta a metallic taste.
- 1 t olive oil
I use a bread machine set on DOUGH to mix mine — though a lot of people insist on doing it by hand, my arthritic hands just won’t do this — and the bread machine (or food processor, or mixer with a dough hook — will all do just fine. If the dough is still too dry after 5 minutes of mixing, you can add warm water, 1 tsp at a time — or add an extra egg — until the dough forms a very firm ball.
Once mixed thoroughly, let the machine (or your hands) continue to knead for 10 minutes.
Remove the dough ball to a zip lock or wrap it in cello and allow to “rest” in the fridge or a cool draft-free place for 30 minutes.
Here’s a video from youtube that demonstrates making pasta, specifically using the machine like mine, pictured above:
Separate the ball of dough into 4 parts, and use each to make 2 servings of pasta. Use a pasta rolling hand-crank machine like the Atlas, or the Trattorina to roll the dough thinner and thinner (run through the machine at least 2 times on each thickness setting, folding the 2 ends over the center third to make an “envelope” fold between rollings) until silky — dusting very lightly with flour if it gets sticky.
Leave remaining dough in plastic-wrap until you need it so it doesn’t dry out.
Cut to the thickness, width, length you want.
Cook damp pasta by dropping cut or uncut long strands of pasta into rapidly boiling water, and boiling hot for 2 minutes – 2 1/2 min. I usually cut mine into 3-4″ lengths over the pot of boiling water so they stay separated.
Once cooked, drain the pasta and toss with 1 t olive oil or butter and use immediately.
HERE ARE SOME easy preparations (a few are a little more complicated and will take some forethought….)
Serving options are endless. Here are some of my favorites: (each suggestion is for 1-2 servings)
1. Add drained, cooked pasta to 3 c. boiling beef or chicken stock for a better-than-ramen noodle soup
2. Saute 1 bunch scallions (green onions) sliced thin in 1 t olive oil or butter, add 1/2 cup minced mushrooms (your choice). Toss with cooked pasta. Season with fresh ground black pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.
3. Saute 1/2 sweet onion (minced), 1 clove crushed garlic, in 1T olive oil until clear; add 1 T capers, 1/4 c minced kalamata olives; 1/4 c very concentrated beef broth, 1 t anchovy paste — and add pasta. Grind fresh black pepper over the plated pasta, and top with mixed Parmesan and Romano Cheese.
4. Brown 3 breakfast link sausages in a small skillet until thoroughly cooked and evenly browned. Cut each sausage link into 6 pieces. Add pasta and toss with a pinch of rubbed sage, black pepper, and sea salt. Plate into a pasta bowl and top with a poached egg and shredded very sharp cheddar cheese.
5. Drain pasta and add 1/2 c milk or half&half. Add 1/2 c (2 oz) shredded cheddar, 2 T shredded parmesan, 1 T shredded Romano, and a dash of Tabasco and stir gently over low heat until cheeses melt. Remove from heat and cover for 3 minutes. Plate with additional cheese on top.
6. Toss pasta in 1 T butter with salt and pepper.
7. Toss pasta in 1/2 c commercial or home-made marinara/Bolognese and sprinkle with Parmesan.
8. Add 1 c chicken stock + 1 t butter to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Shred/mince a cooked (leftover?) chicken breast or other bit of chicken about 4-5 oz. and add to stock. Add a pinch of oregano, basil, and parsley, 2/3 c frozen veggies (corn, peas, green beans, onion, peppers, carrots etc — no cruciferous veggies) and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add cooked pasta, 1/2 t salt, to broth and return to simmer. Add 1 1/2 c milk and return to a low simmer. Add 1/2 c dehydrated mashed potato flakes and whisk until smooth. Simmer on low for 3 minutes.
9. Add drained pasta to a small skillet. Add 1 c commercial or home-made chili (with or without beans works just as well) plus 1 T Trappey’s Red Devil Pepper Sauce (or other similar vinegar based hot sauce); 1/4 c sliced scallions, 1/3 c grated cheese of your choice — toss together lightly until added ingredients are hot. Serve topped with sliced pickled jalapeno peppers!!!!
10. Add drained pasta to a small skillet and add 2 T olive oil, 1 clove crushed garlic, 1/2 t salt, and 2 c washed and dried baby spinach leaves — saute until wilted. top with a light dusting of grated Parm or Romano cheese.
11. In a small skillet over low heat, combine 1/3 c cream, 1/3 c part skim ricotta cheese, 1 oz shredded provolone cheese, 1/3 cup fresh grated Asiago cheese. Add generous fresh ground black pepper and 1/4 t sea salt. When nearly hot, Add pasta, toss, and continue to heat until very hot. Plate with spicy deli salami or other cured meat.
12. Toss with about 2T of pesto (Whole Foods has really good pesto in their deli….) and maybe another T of parm —
13. For a quick pasta salad: quarter 8 cherry tomatoes; chop 1/2c green onions (scallions); crush 1 clove garlic, wash and dry 1c baby spinach leaves and toss all these ingredients with 2T olive oil, 1T rice vinegar, 2T soy sauce, 1/2t worcestershire sauce, 1/2t salt, 1/2t crushed red pepper flakes, and 1T Trappey’s Red Devil sauce. For more protein to make a complete meal, add 3 oz chopped salami or other deli meat, or 2 chopped hard boiled eggs. Chill before serving.
Just so you can see somebody else making pasta from scratch — and how quick and easy this whole process is — start to finish — here’s a cut of Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef, etc…) making a whole pasta meal in under 10 minutes. Note he doesn’t do the 30 minute resting step — which is okay especially if you’re using durum/semolina flours. The textural difference between “egg noodles” and not egg noodles is the difference between the slickness of the egg noodles, and the fluffy, more dumpling-like texture of those not called egg noodles.
HOW EASY COULD IT BE? — Just this easy!
Experimenting with different flours, different numbers of eggs/egg yolks/egg whites/other ingredients; amount of kneading, time at rest, etc will let you choose from silky, slippery, chewy, dense, tender, fluffy — whatever kinds of noodles and pasta you can imagine. There really is a reason for all those wonderful shapes of pasta — they provide different densities (and opportunity for pasta that is both al dente and not — at the same time…) different textures as you chew — different mouth-feel as well as visual appearance.
What a great food / medium!
Here’s another choice — you can get a gnocchi/caviatelli cutting machine for not a big investment — that lets you make the fluffy dumpling dough and make it into soup dumplings!
Or, you can go the german direction, and make spaetzle with one of these:
which cuts chewy pasta dough directly into your boiling water.
There are also a wide variety of other electric and hand cranked pasta rolling machines with attachments that cut every width of pasta, from angel hair to curly edged lasagna; as well as extruding pasta machines that will mix the dough first, and then push it out though die-cut extrusion molds to produce the hollow pastas like rigatoni, penne, manicotti, macaroni, and hollow spaghetti.
However, be aware that the limited power available in home extrusion machines makes them very difficult to use, and often gives them a short life. Extrusion is a power-heavy process, and really requires a sturdy, all metal, high-horsepower commercial machine to do easily.
Additionally, there are many MANY videos on youtube to further demonstrate making traditional pasta shapes, ravioli, tortellini, and gnocchi by hand.