Thursday, January 1, 2009

Fresh Pasta

I wanted to make something special for New Year’s Day – especially since I cooked nothing for New Year’s Eve – so I decided to make fresh, homemade pasta. I only do this a few times a year, so it’s kind of a big deal. To me, anyway.

I haven't yet located any store locally where we can buy fresh pasta sheets, which is a shame. Dried pasta is A-OK 99% of the time, but there’s just something extra decadent about a plate of the fresh stuff. (Especially when I know how much work went into it.)

I used to have a hand-cranked pasta roller, which worked very well but was pretty hard on my upper back. (I’m kind of a wuss.) So the hubby bought me the pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer, and I adore it. It does all the manual work for me, and works like a charm. I’m including instructions for mixing the dough using the stand mixer, although most pasta rollers are pretty standard. So these instructions should work regardless of the roller you have.

I typically use the recipe for egg pasta that’s included with the pasta roller, because it has always treated me well. And the recipe is always handy, right there in the attachment box. (I’ m a wuss AND I’m lazy.)

Fresh Pasta
Makes 1¼ lbs. dough

4 eggs
½ c. water
3½ c. flour
½ tsp. salt

1. Put ingredients in stand mixer bowl. Using flat beater attachment, beat on speed 2 for 30 seconds. Remove flat beater and attach dough hook. Knead on speed 2 for 2 minutes.

2. Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand on lightly floured surface for 1-2 minutes. (If dough is sticky, add a bit more flour.)

3. Cover dough and let rest 20 minutes.

4. Divide dough in four pieces.

5. Take one piece of dough and flatten slightly. Using setting 1 on your pasta roller, feed dough through rollers.

6. Fold dough in half and feed through rollers again, dusting with flour as necessary. This helps to additionally knead the dough. Repeat this process until dough is smooth and pliable. (It will look smooth and elastic, and won’t tear easily.)

7. Change to setting 2 on your pasta roller. Feed dough through rollers to make it thinner. Continue with settings 3 and 4. (I rarely go above setting 4.) Your pasta should be a smooth, clean, pliable sheet.

At this point, you can decide what to do with your fresh pasta. For example, you cn boil sheets of fresh pasta for about a minute and use in lasagna.

Be careful, because they’re very fragile. (Must be Italian.)

I used my usual lasagna recipe but added an extra layer, because the noodles are a bit thinner. The result was … wow. My best lasagna ever. If you've never tried lasagna with fresh noodles, do it now.

You also can cut the pasta using the cutters for your pasta roller. Or you can cut it by hand into any sizes and shapes, and then freeze or dry for later use. That's the beauty of making homemade pasta; you can decide what it should look like.

I cut mine by hand and created these little twisty guys, which I’m going to freeze.

Just because randomly twisted long pasta isn’t something I can typically find in my grocery store. And seriously, how cute are they, huh?

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