Pasta perfecto! Make your own pasta from scratch
~First published in the Burlington Times-News, section A10
Make pasta from scratch? Why would anyone want to do that, when they could simply open a box? Pasta is on the list of things that are easier to buy rather than make, but this actually isn’t true.
Fresh pasta has just two healthy ingredients, is easy to make and is delicious. If you’ve only ever had pasta from a box, you are in for a real treat.
As a kid-chef at the C’est si Bon! Cooking School, I learned to make pasta from scratch — so I am certain this is the perfect, not to mention fun, recipe to make with your friends — no matter their age. Always make more than you think you’ll need, since pasta makes great leftovers.
Paolo’s Handmade Pasta
¾ cup flour
1 large egg
A bit of olive oil (if needed)
Using the ratio of ¾ cup of flour to 1 large egg, double, triple or increase as many times as needed, for the number of people being served. Place sifted flour in a large mound on the table — or use a large shallow bowl. Make a generous well in the center of the flour. Break the egg into the well and using a fork, gently stir to break up the yolk. Keep stirring and gradually incorporate the flour into the egg mixture in the center, a little at a time, being careful not to break the wall and leak egg out onto the table.
When the egg mixture has become dough, put down the fork and begin kneading with your hands. It is not necessary to use up all the flour. If the dough feels too dry, add a tiny amount of olive oil, rather than water. If too wet, add more flour. If you were working in a bowl up to this point, turn the dough out onto a well-floured board or table for kneading.
Knead round and round until the pasta is firm, but not tough. Test by pushing a finger into the ball of dough. The finger should come out fairly clean when the dough is fully kneaded. Let dough rest for at least 30 minutes, covered at room temperature, before rolling.
To roll, cut the pasta dough into manageable size portions. If a pasta machine is not available, roll the dough by hand using a long rolling pin, keeping the work surface and rolling pin well-floured. The dough must be rolled evenly to at most 1 millimeter, or thin enough to see your hand through it. Roll dough thin for more delicate sauces made with stock, or a bit thicker to serve with cream or meat based sauces.
After being rolled, fold well-floured dough back and forth on itself. Cut into noodles of desired width, using a sharp chef’s knife. Place cut noodles on a sheet pan sprinkled with cornmeal mixed with flour. This prevents sticking, so be sure that the noodles are separated and well coated. This is very important.
When ready to cook, place noodles in boiling salted water for 3 minutes or until al dente — firm to the tooth. Drain and toss with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, or serve with the homemade sauce of your choice — white, red or pesto.
Cook’s note: Prior to kneading, a variety of herbs and spices can be mixed into the dough, if desired.