Given the very good quality of dried pastas these days, the desire, reasoning, or need for making fresh pasta is quite limited in our household to be honest.
Yes it does taste nice, but the time and effort given would perhaps better be spent making fresh Ciabatta, Potato Gnochhi, or perhaps nice Pizza dough.
For some people fresh pasta is a fashion statement, an excuse to purchase a shiny metal pasta maker to adorn the kitchen. A new talking point. Sometimes an excuse to impress friends with the use of words such as “doppia zero” when talking about the flour used.
Sure. I always make my own pasta, it was cooked in water colleced this morning, from a mountain stream, straight from the foothills of the Italian Alps. Wow. Yes, I have been to that sort of dinner party, an to be honest the more someone talks up the food, the less I enjoy it. So far as I am concerned, good food is, good food, is good food, it speaks for itself. While it is an endearing trait to be passionate about food, passion and being pretentious, are distinctly different in my opinion.
Probably pre 1970’s Italy, was the era which saw most households making their own fresh pasta daily. But these days, availability, quality, the demands on time, means that most people now choose to spend their free leisure time, well, being leisurely. Rather than hand rolling pasta sheets in a hot dusty kitchen.
The reality is, Italians consume more dried pasta than fresh. Fact.
Once in a while though, we do dabble in the art of pasta making and pay some homage to days of old. As mentioned it does taste fantastically good, so if your slightly curious, read on.
Strictly speaking you should use a double zero “00” pasta flour (doppia zero), to get the best results, however excellent results using a good quality regular plain flour are still achievable, so do not fret if you can’t get hold of the real deal.
The same applies to a pasta machine, yes it is easier to use a machine to roll the sheets, but a good old fashioned rolling pin, sharp knife, and the vital ingredient of elbow grease (hard work) will do the trick just as well.
When it comes to mixing the dough, sure you can use a processor but by hand is probably the best way. You get a feeling for what is going on, your becoming part of the dough.
Actually it is quite sticky at times, and you do quite literally become part of the dough if your not careful. To avoid become overly familiar, a smidgeon of Olive oil rubbed onto your hands prior to mixing, helps alot.
At this point, I will say feel free to experiment.
If you like whole wheat, then use whole wheat flour. You could if you wish add squid ink into the plain flour, and make some delicious and visually striking, squid ink pasta.
You could add finely pulsed spinach, to one batch. And add some finely pulsed sun-dried tomatoes to some other batch, and create a tri-colore (three colour) pasta selection.
The choice and experimentation, is only limited by your imagination.
The quality of the eggs is also worth a mention at this point, I can not emphasize enough the importance of using good quality free-range organic eggs if making pasta. The extra quality really does make a big difference.
140g (5 Oz) Plain, or Italian “00” flour
1 whole egg,
2 seperated egg yolks
A drop of oil for your hands,
– Firstly gently whisk together the whole egg, and the two additional egg yolks, just do it lightly to combine. We add two extra egg yolks, to get a more deeply rich pasta. You could cut back on the yolks though if you wished.
-Next sift the flour into a suitably large bowl, make a well in the centre, and slowly add the egg mixture and combine together with a lightly oiled hand.
-Keep combining until it all binds together, but hopefully not to your hands! At this point if it feels a little too wet, add a drop more flour.
-Next knead and pull at the dough, and press down into it and repeat over. When the dough feels relatively silky, dare I say “breast” like, wrap it in food wrap, or cling film and place in the fridge for around an hour.
-Next lightly flour the rolling surface, and cut your dough ball into two. Lightly flour one of the balls, and begin to roll out the pasta. When you have it to approximately a cm thick, fold it onto itself and continue to roll out, repeat this three or four times.
-Once you have rolled the pasta as above, you are ready to roll to finish, so gently roll out the pasta until is around a mm or so thick. Then lightly flour the sheet, and roll up gently into a sausage.
-Next using a sharp knife, cut the roll into very thin strips to get tagliatelle style pasta. Once cut, ruffle in your fingers to unravel, and toss the ready made pasta strips into some flour to keep them from sticking.
-Repeat the process for the remaining ball.
SERVING SUGGESTION AND TIPS:
Once made the pasta really needs to be used as soon as possible, you could keep it in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge for a few days, but the risk of things sticking together do increase by doing this.
Make sure you cook the pasta in a large pan, plenty of boiling salted water, is especially important for fresh pasta.
This fresh pasta, is delicious served with any of your favourite sauces, however I prefer it with somethng quite plain like a sage butter sauce, with a squeeze of lemon juice, or similar. Enjoy!