After last night’s bearnaise sauce disaster, I thought I’d post a success story about something I’ve wanted to try for a long time. When I was a kid, the women in my family made everything from scratch, including our family staple — pasta. My mom still does it from time to time, but definitely not on a regular basis. For Christmas Billy and I asked for the pasta attachments for our KitchenAid and we finally put them to the test over the weekend.

I was surprised at how easy it was to make pasta dough. I knew from watching my family make it that it was a pretty simple mixture, but I had no clue it was literally just flour and eggs. I have to admit that Billy did the majority of the work while I took pictures and watched in amazement, but it was still a team effort. Besides, Billy has become one of the first men in my family to actually enjoy being in the kitchen, so I take advantage of it! Anyway, I digress. So the pasta dough was so simple that we’re planning on doing it again soon to make some type of filled pasta. Not to mention that the results were absolutely delicious!

Here’s what you’ll need:
(for 3/4 pound of pasta, as directed by Marcella Hazan)
– 1 cup flour
– 2 eggs

Yes, that’s really all you need. On a large counter or flat workspace, form the flour into a mound with a hole in the center. Make sure there are no openings, otherwise egg will sneak through (this really does work, I promise). Crack the eggs into the center of the mound and beat them gently with a fork.

Flour Mound and Beaten Eggs

Draw some of the flour over onto the eggs, mixing with the fork, until the eggs are no longer runny. Because you may not need to use all of the flour, push some to the side before mixing completely. Draw the sides of the mound together and begin to work the eggs and flour together using your fingers and the palms of your hand. Work the eggs and flour together until you have a smooth mixture. If it’s still moist, add some of the flour you set aside. Test the dough by pressing your finger into the center, if it comes out clean and it doesn’t feel sticky, no more flour is needed. Clean your work surface and begin kneading the dough.

Marcella, whom I trust with any Italian cooking that doesn’t come from my own family, makes a big deal about the “proper way” to knead. There’s no better way to put it than in her words, so here’s what she has to say: “Push forward against the dough using the heel of your palm, keeping your fingers bent. Fold the mass in half, give it a half turn, press hard against it with the heel of your palm again, and repeat the operation. Make sure that you keep turning the ball of dough always in the same direction. When you have kneaded it thus for eight full minutes and the dough is as smoother as baby skin, it is ready for the machine.”

After kneading for eight full minutes, it’s time to thin out the dough and cut it into the desired shape. Set up an area near your machine with clean, dry cloths to place the dough on once it’s gone through the machine. Cut the dough into six equal parts and flatten them with the palm of your hand (if making more pasta, the dough should be divided into three times the amount of eggs). Using the widest opening of the thinning rollers on your machine, begin feeding the flattened pieces of dough through the machine one at a time. Once a piece has been fed through once, fold the dough twice into a third of it’s length and feed it by the narrow end through the machine again. Repeat this process two or three times on the widest setting, then lay the flattened strips on the towel. Once each ball of dough has been flattened on the widest setting, close down the opening to the very next setting. Taking the first pasta strip you flattened, run it through on the lower setting one time, return it to the towel and run the next strip in the sequence. Continue this process, lowering the setting by one notch each time, until you reach the desired thickness. Once all the strips have been flattened to the desired thickness, let them dry for at least 10 minutes before cutting. The strips are ready to be cut when they’re still moist enough so they won’t crack, but dry enough so they won’t stick together.

Pasta Dough Being Flattened

Pasta Strips Being Cut

Once all the pasta is cut it’s ready to be cooked (or dried for storage). Place it all in one cloth and carefully slide it into a large pot of salted, boiling water. Fresh pasta will cook in five minutes or less, so make sure to keep a close eye on it. My suggestion for homemade pasta is to pair it with a light sauce, such as a scampi or fresh tomato sauce, but really anything will do.

Homemade Pasta with Shrimp Scampi

I’m in the process of writing this blog and I think it has tired me out more than actually making the pasta did. It’s a lot to explain, but it really is an easy thing to do — and the results are worth the little effort it takes. The dough came together easily, and using the KitchenAid attachments made flattening and cutting the dough really simple since there was no manual cranking of the machine. I was amazed at how much the final product resembled dried, packaged pasta. The fresh pasta tasted much…fresher…but the texture was pretty much the same as any dried pasta I’ve had. Overall, I think this was a great experience and I wish I had done it sooner. We’ll definitely be making fresh pasta again, and hopefully doing lots of experiments!

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