The Adventures of a First Time Pasta Chef

Huzzah! I’ve busted out the pasta maker that I got for my bridal shower two weeks ago (from my lovely maid of honor- Thanks Spoony!) and boy let me tell you – It was quite the adventure. Before you even entertain the notion of making fresh pasta from scratch, set aside AT LEAST three hours to do so. Yes, it is quite the time commitment- but trust me! You will never have tasted such luscious, silky, delicate, incredible pasta in your life. If you are willing to spend the day in the kitchen, go out and get yourself one for these bad boys, right now!

I’ve made pasta once before – At Eat Alberta in 2011 with Kathryn Joel from Get Cooking.¬†She ran a fantastic workshop on how to make pasta. I confess, I used a lot of her techniques today!

Here is my latest kitchen toy, right out of the box. Isn’t it a beaut?

For the pasta dough, I had considered cheaping out and using my bread maker to knead it for me. But would I have been able to brag about the kneading callouses I developed? No How. So, we begin. All it takes is all purpose flour and eggs. (I’m considering getting some fancy flour specifically for pasta. Apparently it’s easier to handle than all purpose. Does anyone know of any local pasta flour I can get out there?)

To begin, pile flour high on your work surface and dig out a well in the centre.

Next, crack eggs into the centre of the well.

With a fork, beat eggs until the walls of your well slowly begin to incorporate into the eggs in the centre.

The egg goop will slowly get larger and larger. Keep beating.

Once almost all of the eggs and flour are incorporated, start kneading.

When you can’t knead no more, call over your strong fiance to give it a go. :)

Knead until a uniform ball can be made.

Let rest under a moist cloth for 15 minutes. It needs a break and so do you.

After the break, set your pasta machine up on a surface and make sure the anchor it. The last thing you need is your machine sliding around while you’re turning the crank!

Chop off a manageable piece of the ball. Set the pasta machine to the highest setting (mine was 7), and lightly flour the surface. Pass the piece of pasta through the machine several times at this setting , folding in half and lightly flouring each time.

Here’s me passing through a folded over piece.

It’s pretty cool to watch it come out the bottom.

Once the piece is looking pretty uniform, you can switch the toggle to a lower setting. (This is the piece after it went through number 6 setting.)

This is number 5 setting.

This is number 4 setting.

This is number 3 setting.

This is number 2 setting.

The number 1 setting made the pasta so long, that I had to cut it in half before using the cutting tool.

Next, light flour the pasta again and pass it through the pasta cutter. I used the linguini function.

I laid it flat on the counter. Perhaps I should invest in a pasta dryer?

Now, since this was for only once piece of the dough ball, repeat all steps above until there is no more pasta left to press and cut!

And voila! Here is all of the pressed and cut pasta from the ball. It made quite a bit, eh?

I curled up all of the pasta into little nests. I heard that they dry better this way when you do not have a pasta rack.

Now, since I had made the pasta from scratch, I figured I may as well make the sauce from scratch too. (I know, I am such a glutton for punishment…)It was worth it! We had quite the Italian feast!

I diced up the peppers and onions and let them cook down for a bit.

Then, I added the can of tomatoes and brought it to a simmer.

I cooked the pasta very quickly (do NOT overcook fresh pasta! It tastes so much better al dente).

Toss the sauce and the pasta together.

Serve with a glass of red and enjoy. A LOT!

Jacquie’s Super Fantastic Italian Feast of Homemade Pasta and Quick Veggie Sauce

For the Pasta:

3 eggs

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

 

For the sauce:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 sweet mini bell peppers

1 medium onion

1 large can of tomatoes

1 head of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp Italian seasoning

2 tbsp oregano

salt and pepper to taste

a few fresh basil leaves

For the pasta:

Pile flour high on work surface. Create “well” in centre and crack eggs into well. Using a fork, blend until eggs and flour are incorporated well. Knead until uniform ball can be formed. Let rest under a damp clean cloth for 15-20 minutes. Turn Pasta Press knob to it’s highest setting (7). Cut off a manageable chunk of the pasta ball, re-covering the remainder with damp cloth. Lightly flour chunk and pass through machine at highest setting several times, folding over and lightly flouring each time. Once you have a good piece to work with, switch setting to 6, and pass through. Continue to pass piece through, turning knob to a lower setting each time. The piece will get longer and longer, thinner and thinner. If it becomes too long to manage, cut in half. When ready to cut pasta, lightly flour again and pass through cutting extension. Be sure to feed piece evenly through the machine. Lay pieces out to dry on lightly floured surface. Repeat these steps until the entire dough ball has been pressed and cut. Form “birdcages” with fresh pasta to dry.

For the sauce, heat oil and garlic in a large pot. Dice peppers and onion and add to oil and garlic. Cook down for 5 minutes on low-med heat. Add can of tomatoes and seasoning and spices. Bring to a simmer while cooking pasta. In the last 2 minutes before serving, chop basil leaves and add.

Cook pasta by bringing a full pot of water to a full rolling boil before adding pasta. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to prevent sticking. Cook for 2-3 minutes before checking and only cook to al dente. DO NOT OVERCOOK. Incorporate both sauce and pasta in same pot and toss well.

Serve with a glass of wine and enjoy! You deserve it after all of that hard work. :)


3 Comments on “The Adventures of a First Time Pasta Chef”

  1. acanadianfoodie says:

    WHAT a feat! Congratulations! LOOKS sooooo yummy!
    Good for you and congratulations on the big upcoming event!
    XO
    Valerie

  2. Patsy says:

    I hope to learn to make home made pasta in Italy this summer! I’ll let ya know if I do ;)!

    Keep up the great work Jacquie, I love your blog!

  3. This is excellent. Where did you buy your pasta crank (and how much was it?)? I know the Italian Centre sells one. I would definitely give semolina a try, as far as ‘fancy flour’ goes. That’s more authentic.

    Also, just out of curiosity, you could make it 1 1/2 cup all purpose and 1 cup buckwheat (from Gold Forest grains) might give an interesting and earthy flavor to the pasta. I’ve made crackers with buckwheat flour and they taste GREAT! Never tried making pasta, so it’s all theoretical :P

    And yes, I’m wit Val – All the best on your big, upcoming event! (your wedding, presumably?)


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