Pasta: The Ultimate Pantry Food

 

In 1983, I bought my Atlas pasta maker and the motor attachment at the Whip and Spoon on Commercial Street in Portland. It is still running strong after many plates of fettuccini, spaghetti, lasagna and ravioli. When my kids were little, I would make one mega sheet of dough in a batch of mostly the same sized sheets so there would be 8 very long noodles and dinner would include “the longest noodle” contest; it could get a little messy but it was fun and delicious. The only warning I will give you about fresh pasta, once you start making it, you will create a household of food snobs that want nothing but the real stuff.

Yes, it takes longer to make fresh pasta but the difference in taste is huge and you always have the ingredients on hand to make it. Pasta is the ultimate pantry food. Also, a box of pasta is an everyday event but homemade pasta is a food event any day you make it. I find making pasta relaxing, like the way baking bread feels, and it is a little like a grown-up play dough factory.  Put your time into the pasta, make a simple sauce, and let the pasta be the star of your pasta dish.

What does this number mean?

 

 

Ingredients

3 – 4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

4 large whole eggs

Directions

Put three cups of the flour and the salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and whirl to combine.

Add the eggs to the flour and process until it forms a ball

Adding the right amount of flour:  The pasta should be in a ball in the food processor bowl, but not sticky. It should not leave dough on your hand when you touch it. The pasta ball should not be so dry that when you pull a piece from the ball it separates without any stretch and feels crumbly; it should feel elastic. After the three cups, when adding additional flour, do so two tablespoon at a time. If you add too much flour, lightly beat an egg in a small bowl and add it, a very little at a time, until you get the correct texture.

Once the pasta dough is just right, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for about ten minutes.

Take out a small portion of dough, about 1/4 cup, with lightly floured hands and flatten it to a small oval. Feed it between the rollers of the pasta machine, set on the first level and guide the sheet out with your hand. I like to feed it through each level twice. Dust the dough with flour if needed. For fettuccini, I like it thinned to level 5.

I put sheets of plastic wrap or waxed paper on the counter and dust them lightly with flour. Place the thinned sheets of pasta on the floured surface in a single layer as you crank them out.

To cut the pasta, you can use an attachment to the pasta maker, or roll the pasta sheet loosely like a jelly roll and cut it with a sharp knife into ribbons of the desired width.

Lay the strips of pasta on the floured wax paper and let them dry. I like to make little nests of pasta by shaping a handful of the fresh noodles into circles. This makes it easier to drop them in the cooking pot. Fresh pasta should be cooked immediately or dried completely by hanging on a rack.

Fill a large pot of water and put on high heat. I like to make a simple sauce while the pasta is resting in the little nests and the water is heating to a boil. Once the water boils, add 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Add the noodles and stir to separate. Fresh pasta only takes 1 – 3 minutes to cook. Drain and serve with olive oil, fresh ground pepper, and a sprinkle of fresh grated cheese, or with your favorite sauce. Try my Bacon and Rosemary Cream sauce!