Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homemade pasta dough

Every now and then, I've made homemade pasta. My pasta making hands are too useless (thanks to arthritis) to make pasta now, so I have to rely on my son or husband's strength. That doesn't mean you can't learn how to make it. Here's my favorite recipe with a couple variations on the theme - one for wheat pasta and one for spinach!

 Basic Pasta Dough

3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1/4 t salt
3 eggs
3 tablespoons pure olive oil
6-9 tablespoons water

Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Form a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs and oil in the center of the well. Using a fork, whisk the liquid and gradually begin to whisk in the flour - this will get harder near the end and your technique will be more of a stir than a whisk! The result will be rather crumbly. Add one tablespoon of water at a time - sprinkle it all around the dough and mix in each tablespoon. Add only enough water so that the dough will form a ball - yet still be a tad crumbly.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and work it with the heel of your hand, pushing the dough away from you. If it's sticky, add more flour to the surface.

Now this is the hardest part. You will need to do this for about 10 minutes or so until you have a smooth very elastic ball of dough. Then invert the mixing bowl over it and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes more.

Now you can separate it into three sections and roll it out and cut it as you prefer. When rolling dough always push in the direction away from the center of the dough and rotate as necessary. The goal is to maintain it's shape and thin it evenly. Make 1/4 turns as you roll - small measured movements are best. Keep the unrolled portion of dough covered by the bowl so it does not dry out.

This will make about 1 1/2 pounds of the noodle of your choice - about 75 beautiful raviolis. If you have a pasta machine, use it to "roll" your dough and cut your pasta. Otherwise, don't worry about making perfect cuts, just tell everyone it's the "rustic" look.

One great idea here is to make 1/3 of a recipe for a practice session the first time. That's likely enough for your family and it will make your next batch a snap!


To make Whole Wheat Pasta Dough, use 1 cup unbleached flour and 2 cups whole wheat.

To make Spinach Dough, add six tablespoons of cooked, pureed, and well-drained spinach to the flour mixture at the same time you add the eggs and oil.

To give your pasta a kick, add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the flour!

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