Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pasta from scratch - simply sensational!

In June, I fell in love with the food of Italy (see, for example: here, here and here). However, it was the locally made pasta that we purchased from a very small pasticceria in the Italian Riviera that made me race off to our local kitchenware store and purchase a shiny, new pasta machine within a week of returning to Melbourne.

While I am in no way near an expert in the art (and it is an art) of pasta making, I have enjoyed sensational results using my new contraption and would urge any pasta lovers out there to invest (approximately $20 for the machine and 45 minutes of your time) to make pasta from scratch. Here's my little guide to making simple spaghetti/fettuccine.

Simple home-made egg pasta
Serves 4 hungry people with a bit left over
5 eggs
500g Tipo "00" flour (available at all good supermarkets next to the regular flour)
a dribble (yes, that's the technical term!) of olive oil (if necessary)

Now the messy fun part begins!
Dump your flour onto a clean work surface and create a well in the centre. Crack eggs into this well (easier said than done - my first few attempts greatly pleased our felines as yolk dribbled over the side of the bench onto the floor...) like so:

Next comes the delicate part - using your finger tips to gradually "beat" the eggs, then combining the wet (eggs) with the dry (flour). Once you've done this (i.e. the eggs are no longer likely to make their way off the bench and into the mouths of your pets) the real elbow grease kicks in. I understand now why Italian nonnas have such great arms - combining these ingredients requires about 10 to 15 minutes of good hard kneading. If your mixture isn't coming together after around 5 minutes, a drizzle of olive oil may help. Conversely, should the dough be too sticky, add a little bit more flour. You'll know when the consistency is right - not too sticky, not too dry or flakey. Jamie Oliver (ever more eloquent than I) says: "You’ll know when to stop – it’s when your pasta starts to feel smooth and silky instead of rough and floury."

At this point, it's time to fully wrap your little dough ball (I use a few layers of cling film to make sure I have an airtight seal) and rest for around an hour. I have put mine in the fridge and left it out. Both methods have yielded similar results. I think the fridge would be a more prudent option if you're leaving the dough for more than an hour - after all, no one likes rotten egg pasta!

Once the dough is rested, it's time to crack out your pasta machine. Separate your dough into around 4 sections (keep sections you are not working with sealed so they do not dry out). Dust your work surface with flour and roll out dough (a rolling pin is handy here). Feed rolled out dough through the machine's widest setting (number 6 on my machine). Next, set the machine down a setting (5 on my machine...duh!) and roll the dough through again. Fold the piece of dough in half and click the pasta machine back to its widest setting (6). Repeat the process 5+ times to make super silky, luxurious pasta.  

Once you're happy with the texture of your pasta start from the widest setting on the machine and work your way down (one click at a time) in order to achieve your desired pasta thickness (typically, a little thicker for spaghetti/lasagne sheets than for filled pastas). Don't forget to keep dusting your work surface with flour as required. Finally, run your pasta sheets through the desired "cutter" (note to self: find out if this component has a technical name!) on your machine - mine has two options: one for fettuccine; and the other for spaghetti.

You know the rest of the drill - whack your fresh egg pasta into a large pot of boiling water with a dash of salt and allow to bubble away for a couple of minutes (N.B. fresh pasta cooks much faster than its dry counterpart). 

Top with your favourite sauce and enjoy - there's truly nothing like a bowl of al dente pasta (made with love and hopefully not too much sweat!) and a glass of red - food synergy, in my humble opinion!
Buon appetito!


  1. Looks great! i am still so far from being able to do something like this... eeek! But I think that one day I will try making pasta.

  2. soo want fettucini bolognese right now.

  3. Thanks Laura - I highly recommend that you try it - it's extremely easy to make (and even easier to eat!!).