originally, i had planned to write about homemade pasta and why it’s significantly better than store-bought. but then, there was an earthquake. given that i don’t live in an earthquake zone, this disrupted a good chunk of my day.
but, there was pasta last night, fresh pasta. the kind of stuff that can move earth itself. so, really, who needs an earthquake? (perhaps, i just need a better segue).
i don’t care what you put on this pasta, just make it. i also don’t particularly care what kind of flour you use, though we mostly use unbleached, i’ve made it with rice flour in the past. the trick is not refrigerating the dough and wrapping it well. and, no, you don’t need a pasta machine to roll it out. though, we make it twice as often now that we do have one.
from jamie oliver
2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
6 eggs, large (jamie suggests using organic, but for some reason the local, organic ones are smaller around these parts, so we go with 7)
salt, to taste
that’s it, that’s all.
sift the flour into a bowl and form a well.
crack the eggs into the centre of the well.
beat the eggs with a fork until smooth.
using the tips of your fingers, mix the eggs with the flour, incorporating a little at a time, until everything is combined.
knead the dough with care and love. (yes, he mentions love. i think it’s important too)
once you’ve made your dough you need to knead and work it with your hands to develop the gluten in the flour, otherwise your pasta won’t be al dente, but rather soft.
take a piece of pasta, about the size of your fist, and roll it out. even if you’re using a machine, this makes the process much easier.
depending on what shape you are making (ravioli, fettuccine, lasagna), the work here will vary. my best piece of advice: think of it as cutting paper. if you’re making ravioli, cut it into squares, fill one square and sandwich the other over top. pinch around the edge and you’re done. for straight pasta (spaghetti and so forth), dust the pasta dough with a bit of flour, fold, fold, fold, fold (as needed) and then cut/slice into strips. this will give you fairly even strips.
there’s a reason why italian men used to call home and say they were leaving work. the idea was that the sauce would be made in advance and then reheated and that the water was to be boiled when the man left from work, so that supper would be ready when he came home.
boil more water than you think you need (we use about 3 liters for this recipe). the water should be able to totally cover the pasta. salt it well.
cook the pasta for ~10 minutes, or until it’s still a bit al dente.
toss with olive oil.
even if you’re putting sauce on, i still use about a tablespoon of olive oil for my pasta. it helps the sauce stick and not become all runny. do not, under any circumstances (particularly not the circumstance of the mother-in-law) run your pasta under water. it gets rid of the starch. your sauce will be watery. and therefore, not as good.