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homemade pasta

July 18, 2010

:: so, i ask you: What could possibly have fewer ingredients than simple cheese?  the answer is: pasta.  if you can make my simple cheese recipe, pasta is your next best friend.  combine the two, and you could have the most amazing lasagna.  I suggest lasagna noodles the first time around as they are wide rectangles, and they don’t require boiling if you are going to use them right away.  So, it couldn’t be easier, especially if you have children helping out. 

i was inspired again by the lovely soulemama.  she has spoken several times about making pasta, and i just happened to have tomato, basil and mozzarella in my fridge.  it sounded like a perfect summer dish.  i will provide my whole recipe here.  so, whether you make your own noodles, or not, you can still enjoy the fruits of summer. 

the only caution i will give you is that making pasta is a cross between making bread and making pie dough.  it requires a lengthy amount of kneading, some rest time, and also a lot of rolling out.  if you have strength in your wrists, you don’t need any fancy equipment. a rolling-pin and sturdy determination will do. 

also, i use a special type of flour in my recipe, semolina flour.  most folks won’t just have this lying around.  so, i will say this.  in this recipe, i used 1/2 semolina flour and 1/2 all-purpose flour.  i expect fully to continue to play with the proportions.  and you can too, meaning that if you only have all-purpose, change the recipe to fit what you have on hand.  i promise it will not be the end of the world.  nothing in life is perfect.  you may find that this really suits your taste and lifestyle.  also, if you are the lucky few that happen to have pasta equipment, whether attached to your kitchenaide, or not, use it, please.  no one will think anything less of you for not rolling out every last bit by hand.  use your resources.  lastly, i add herbs to my pasta for a fresh taste.  if you have herbs on hand, snip whatever you have into this recipe.  if you don’t, leave them out.  this isn’t a science.  so, be flexible to what you have in your fridge.

so, here we gooooo….

Basil and Garlic Pasta

1 3/4 cup of semolina flour

1 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour  (again, use what you have, as long as it totals to 3.5 cups of flour in the end.)

5 large eggs, beaten

1 hefty pinch of salt (and maybe more to taste)

1 clove of garlic, finely minced (here i used the frozen kind, which is my favorite.  it is crushed finely, and takes a small amount of time to thaw into a mush that cannot be readily discerned in the mix.  use it if you have it, otherwise, chop it very very finely.  no one wants to each a hunk of garlic.)

1/2 cup of tightly packed basil, minced  (again, remember that the herbs and garlic are the fancy stuff.  take them away, and you have a very simple and easy pasta recipe.  you don’t need to include these items if they’re not in your pantry right now.  so be flexible.)

 

so, this is the messy part.  you will notice that i do not have images of these steps and this is because it is very messy, and just like making bread, once you get your hands in, there’s no such thing as walking away.  so be prepared.

clear off a work surface, and clean it thoroughly.  for this process, you will not be mixing ingredients in a bowl.  everything will be done on your kitchen counter.  obviously, just like making pies, a marble surface is best.  but who has that, really?  wood is the next best option.  i do happen to have a wood countertop.  otherwise, just work with what you’ve got.

pour your measured flour onto your kitchen counter, making a large well in the middle.  do this by mounding your flour into a ring, leaving the middle empty and able to receive ingredients.  make sure the well is large enough to accommodate all of your beaten eggs, otherwise, it will overflow, and the mess will be worse.  obviously, in the middle of your well, pour in the beaten eggs, and your hefty pinch of salt.  if you were adding herbs, etc, you could add them to the well too.  again, this is why it is important that the well is large enough. 

next, begin pulling little bits of flour into the egg, and vice versa.  i will say this.  sometimes there’s a break in the dam, so to speak.  if your egg starts running out the side of the well, move quickly to incorporate it into the flour.  it’s not a big deal if this happens.  just remedy appropriately.    keep doing this until your dough comes together.  at first it will be stuck all over your hands.  that’s okay.  have patience and keep working it.  if, after a while, you notice that most of the liquid has been incorporated and there is still a bit of flour left, you can use a small amount of water, just a few drops here or there, to get the rest mixed in.  in the end, you should have a golden-yellow ball of dough.  it will be fairly stiff. 

now, you must knead.  and don’t skimp on this.  kneading has to occur for about 10 minutes.  some people recommend 15 – 20 minutes.  i didn’t find that necessary.  but, if after 10 minutes you don’t have a nice, smooth ball of dough that has some elasticity to it, you may want to keep going.  again, this is stiff dough.  so, work it.

after kneading, you must let the dough rest.  it should rest for 10 to 20 minutes.  if you’re worried about it drying out, which can happen, do one of two things, or both.  wrap it up in a damp and clean towel, and put it in a sealed baggie.  then, just let it sit. 

if you were going to use this dough right away, now might be a good time to prepare the ingredients for your recipe.

after the dough has rested, it’s time to roll it out.  so here’s the deal.  the dough will double in size during cooking.  the rule of thumb is to get the dough to the thickness of a dime, and no more.  if you can do that, congratulations.  but remember, it will double.  so, whatever your thickness, think about how it feel to eat a noodle twice it’s size.  too thick is stiff and awkward and requires a much longer cooking time.  just be aware.

so, i maybe didn’t go thin enough.  i probably should have gone thinner.  i will tell you, the rolling of the dough is the hard part.  to do it properly, flour your surface a little so that it doesn’t stick.  roll from the middle, then turn the dough a quarter, and repeat.  from time to time, it is good to flip the dough over to insure it’s even.   if kneaded properly, the dough should not crack.

once at your desired thickness, cut the dough into your desired shapes.  try to keep things as uniform as you can.  this will help with even cooking.  again, i suggest lasagna noodles first, as they’re just big rectangles.  if you’re ambitious, try something more like fettucine.  you can also do ravioli and other fun things at this stage. 

now, it’s time to cook.  if you’ve got lasagna noodles, just throw them right into your baking dish with the rest of the ingredients.  if you’ve got thin noodles, put them in a large pot of boiling water.  i think adding a little olive oil to the pot helps to keep them from sticking.  or, you could also hang them from a mini ‘clothes line’ to let them dry for later use.  it’s up to you.  if you’re cooking them in a pot, as i did, ideal cooking time should be 3 – 5 minutes.  that is, if you’ve done your job and made them no thicker than a dime.  if that was hard to achieve, as you see i clearly did not (but then, i wasn’t thinking straight either), your cooking time will be longer.  check the noodles to make sure they are done by breaking one open and looking for raw flour in the middle.  don’t over cook as they become chewy and unpleasant.

once cooked, drain and mix with your sauce.  and you’re done! tadaaa!

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Pasta

1 LB of pasta

1 pint of cherry tomatoes, cut into halves or fourths depending on size

1 LB of mozzarella, cut into bite size chunks to match tomatoes

1/2 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or torn

3 cloves garlic, minced or frozen crushed

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

combine all your ingredients except the pasta into a large bowl, and let it marinade together at room temperature for an hour.  if you’re making your own noodles, do this stuff first and let it sit while you’re making your pasta.  after an hour, toss this dressing with the cooked pasta and serve.  it’s that simple.

 

i hope everyone tries their hand at pasta making.  if you do, again, i invite you to share your experience and photos with me.  send them to me and i will post them here to inspire others to do the same.  hope this recipe finds you well, and full of summer delight.

:)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. sagesweetgrass permalink
    July 18, 2010 10:59 am

    Mmmmmm! Looks good! Definitely one to try!

    • lolocreatives permalink*
      July 18, 2010 3:01 pm

      if you make something with your pasta, take a photo and send it my way. i’ll post them here for everyone to enjoy. :)

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