How to prepare Pasta Recipes?
When Grandma Maria was going to prepare fresh pasta, that meant a big feast was approaching: Christmas, Easter, the feast of the patron saint of the city, an anniversary, the confirmation of grandchildren, the visit of one of her sons….
The house, normally calm and quiet, was full of actions and energy. The wooden board to prepare the dough was brought from the basement, the pasta machine was removed from the most hidden corner of the cupboard.
I spend few years of my childhood in my grandparent’s house and I have in my memory those great moments: a couple of Grandma’s friends were coming home and placed around the table preparing tortelli or anolini, gossiping about the whole village.
My duty was to bring the production to Nonna Maria’s bedroom and dispose of the pasta in a row and count them: an enormous responsibility.
My aunt was usually in charge of preparing the dough, Nonna Maria the filling.
Homemade Pasta Ingredients:
- 400g Flour
- 3/4 Eggs
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil to taste (just to avoid making the crust on the top)
How to make dough for pasta?
- Place the flour on a clean work surface and make a nest. Add the eggs and salt to the center and use a fork to break up the eggs, keeping the flour walls intact as best as you can. Use your hands to gently bring the flour inward to incorporate. Continue working the dough with your hands to bring it together into a ball.
- Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes. In the beginning, you will feel the dough dry, but stick with it! It might not feel like it is going to come together, but after 8-10 minutes of kneading, it should become consistent and smooth. If the dough still seems too dry, sprinkle your fingers with a tiny bit of water to incorporate. If it is too sticky, dust more flour onto your work surface. Work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, otherwise, your pasta will be flabby and soft when you cook it, instead of springy and al dente.
- Shape the dough into a ball, put in an oiled bowl, paint the surface with some more oil, cover with a clean towel, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
How to roll your Pasta:
- Slice the dough into pieces. Gently flatten one into an oval disk. Run the dough through the pasta roller three times on level 1 (the widest setting).
- Set the dough piece onto a work surface. Fold both short ends in to meet in the center, then fold the dough in half to form a rectangle.
- Run the dough through the pasta roller two time on level 2, one time on level 3, and one time each on levels 4, 5, and 6. Or the other way around, depending on your machine.
- Lay half of the pasta sheet onto the floured working surface. Sprinkle more flour on top of the second half. Every side should be floured so that your final pasta (tagliatelle, fettuccine, pappardelle, capelli d’angelo etc) won’t stick together.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Run the pasta sheets through the Pasta Cutter Attachment. Repeat with remaining dough. If you do not have a pasta cutter, roll the pasta sheets and cut with a knife on the size you like.
- Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes.
You can also make your dough in a food processor if you have one. Just bung everything in, whiz until the flour looks like breadcrumbs, then tip the mixture on to your work surface and bring the dough together into one lump, using your hands.
There is no secret to kneading. You just beat (bash or slap as you prefer) the dough a bit with your hands, squashing it into the table, reshaping it, pulling it, stretching it, squashing it again. It is quite hard work! (Italians Grandmothers hurt when they slapped you!) You will know when to stop – it is when your pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury.
If you have not got a pasta machine?????
It is not the end of the world! All the Grandmas I met while travelling around Italy rolled pasta with their trusty rolling pins and they would not even consider having a pasta machine in the house! The main problem, when it comes to rolling, is to get the pasta thin enough to work with. It is quite difficult to get a big lump of dough rolled out in one piece, and you need a long rolling pin to do the job properly. You’ll be rolling your pasta into a more circular shape than the long rectangular shapes you’ll get from a machine but use your head and you’ll be all right!
Clean your work surface before you start (use the longest available work surface you have). If your surface is cluttered with bits of paper, the kettle, the bread bin, the kids’ homework, and stuff like that, shift all this out of the way for the time being. Starting with a clear space to work in will make things much easier, I promise.
Olive oil lends great flavour to pasta, but it makes the dough brittle and prone to cracking if it dries. It is best not to use olive oil if you are shaping the dough into tortellini or ravioli.
Fresh pasta can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.
You can freeze your pasta but already shaped.