Food

How to Cook Italian Pasta: Step by Step Guide

How to Cook Italian Pasta: Step by Step Guide

It’s hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago I was in Italy; now it feels like long ago. I have permitted myself to be pulled into the busyness of daily life, and Italy begins to feel further and farther apart. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t like my life, it’s that I really like it, so I wasn’t able to let Italy go. Hot sunshine days and warm evenings; a rhythm of life that felt so natural; the old world blended subtly with the modern.

So, with Italy on my conscience, this week I made my own pasta and thought I would share with you my simple recipe and technique, along with photographs. The homemade pasta recipe is one that we used while I was in kindergarten, but at higher altitudes, I have also added a somewhat different recipe for making pasta. But for those who find it to be a bit of a hassle, I recommend using electric pasta maker.

Starting Out

The fresh pasta dough itself, first off, is a breeze to make. The dough can be cooked in less than 5 minutes if you happen to own a food processor. (Or you can do it in less than 15 minutes by hand or in a stand mixer.)

The process of rolling the noodles out is also easier than I expected, especially once I got the hang of using my little pasta maker. (I have also provided directions below on how to roll out pasta by hand using a stand mixer or a rolling pin.)

Ingredients

  • Flour: I just enjoy making “00” flour for my homemade pasta, which produces the silkiest pasta. But I’m going to use half “00” and half semolina flour if I make a sauce that’s a little more hearty, which makes the pasta a little thicker and allows the sauce to stick better to the pasta. That said, any (or a mixture of) of these three flours will fit with this recipe- a) 00 Flour, Semolina Flour, All Purpose Flour
  • Eggs: Four large eggs are needed in this recipe.
  • Olive oil: This can help moisten the dough as well. (You should even throw in a few teaspoons of water if the dough is already too dry.)
  • Sea salt: We’ll apply a teaspoon of fine sea salt to the recipe, and while cooking the pasta, I’d suggest adding a little more to your pasta sauce.

Using a Food Processor

This is my favourite way of making homemade pasta because it’s the simplest and fastest way! Simply add all four ingredients (fitted with the normal blade attachment) to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for about 10 seconds, or before a crumbly texture has entered the mixture.

Remove the dough and pat it with your hands into a ball and put it on a cutting board that is gently floured. For 1-2 minutes, knead the dough until it is soft and elastic. (Just apply some extra flour if the dough is damp or moist. You want it to be pretty dry.) Roll the dough with your hands into a ball, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Instantly use or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Using a Stand Mixer

A super-simple technique is also possible (especially handy if you also use a stand mixer roller attachment to roll out the pasta dough). In the bowl of a stand mixer, just combine all of your ingredients. Then blend and knead the dough for 8-10 minutes at low speed with the dough handle, until it is smooth and elastic. (Just apply some extra flour if the dough is damp or sticky. You want it to be pretty dry.)

Shape the dough with your hands into a ball, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and then let the dough sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Instantly use or chill in the fridge for up to 1 day.

Pasta by Hand

If you don’t have a food processor or a mixer for the stand, no prob! Place the flour on a broad cutting board in a heap. In the centre of the flour mound (kind of like a volcano), then use your fingers or a spoon to build a good-sized well. Place the eggs in the middle of the well. Sprinkle the salt on top of the eggs and drizzle them with olive oil. To commence whisking the eggs, use a fork.

Then starting steadily whisking some of the surrounding flour into the egg mixture until they are mixed, adding more and more until the egg mixture is nice and dense. (If any eggs spill out unintentionally, no problems, just use your hands or a bench scraper to bring them back in.) Then, when mixed, use your hands to fold the rest of the dough all together.

Sprinkle any extra flour on the cutting board if necessary to avoid sticking or if the dough is too damp or sticky. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. (You want the dough to be pretty dry.) Shape the dough with your hands into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Instantly use or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Last Steps

Flatten the edge that you are going to feed first into the pasta system. At the lowest numbered setup, launch the pasta roller. This is number 1 for others, it’s 0.0 for some. I’m using a pasta roller that sticks in my mixer for Kitchen Aide. But all of these pasta machine instructions work when you’re using something similar to mine, or using a hand cranked model.

The pasta dough is folded like a business letter again, but the first time it was folded in the opposite direction. This is in an effort to create the dough foundation. Flatten one edge again and feed it back into the lowest numbered environment via the pasta machine.

Repeat the previous step before the silky feel of the dough starts. In the same atmosphere, this can take 10 to 12 passes. Fold the dough in half lengthwise until you have hit the silk point and feed it through the printer for the last time.

If you make lasagna, you’re ready for the drying process. Shift the pasta machine attachment from the roller to a slicer if you’re making fettuccini or spaghetti, and feed the pasta sheet into it. It is ready to dry now. Pasta sheets and noodles may be dried on a drying rack or on the back of a chair. I like to dry mine for 30 minutes or so, cut it to the length that I like, and bring it down. It is possible to leave very thin spaghetti on a baking sheet on the oven, gently tossed with all-purpose or semolina flour.

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