As I was researching homemade pasta, I noticed that a lot of the comments on pasta-making blogs went something like this: “Thanks for posting this. I got a pasta maker as a wedding present, but I have never gotten around to using it. Now I’m inspired to try it out.” It seems as though there may be hundreds or or even thousands of pasta makers sitting out there gathering dust, never getting a chance to strut its pasta-making stuff. This is very sad.
In the meantime, we’ve tried making pasta without a pasta maker.* Our findings? Pasta makers aren’t really necessary. So this raises the question: Is the primary purpose of pasta makers just to fill up wedding registries? Hmmm…
Anyway, there isn’t really much to pasta dough; it’s just eggs and flour:
- 2 cups of white flour
- 4 eggs
- Pinch of salt
However, lots of work is required to turn these few ingredients into fettuccine.
- Whisk flour and salt together. Form well in the middle. Crack eggs into well. Use a fork to whisk eggs together and then slowly begin incorporating the flour into your whisking, continuing until you have a messy ball of dough.
- Tip dough out onto floured counter and knead until it is completely smooth and pretty springy. This takes about 10 minutes. Don’t shortchange the kneading, or your pasta won’t work.
- Roll the dough out into a long rectangle, getting it as thin as you possibly can without making it so thin that when you pick it up it falls apart.
- Flour both sides of the dough, then pull the top 2/3 down past the bottom 1/3, then pull what is now the bottom 1/3 back on top of the original 1/3. Put this on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into thin strips the desired width of your fettuccine. Unravel each strip.
- Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Drop the fettuccine in and cook for just 2 minutes.
We served our pasta with a pesto we made using 2 tbsp pine nuts, 2 cloves garlic, two handfuls of mixed greens from our container garden (mostly green and purple basil but also parsley and arugula), salt, pepper, and of course olive oil.
The pasta looked a bit thick, but it tasted quite light. Honestly, it was great. I generally avoid pasta, having been overserved spaghetti and meatballs as a kid. But fresh pasta tastes completely different, and I’m definitely going to making a lot of it in the future. Homemade pasta is worlds better than boxed dry pasta, and quite a lot better than the fresh pasta we’ve bought at specialty shops, too. It’s also quite a lot cheaper than buying fresh pasta, and really not that much work.
So now we know that we don’t NEED a pasta maker. But do we want one? A pasta maker would improve the consistency of our pasta; some strands were thicker than others, both in height and width. But a pasta maker would also mean more equipment to clean, and that would be a deterrent to making pasta. Alex is pro pasta maker, but I’m now con. Would love to hear from those of you who have made pasta both by hand and with a machine on whether the machine is worth the hassle.
Also, check out this pastafarian.
*When I say “we,” I really mean “Alex.” Nearly all the work in July blog posts has been done by Alex, since I am currently on the disabled list.