My husband got me a pasta maker for our anniversary! I’m a big fan of fresh pasta. There was a booth near us at the farmer’s market that sold fresh noodles, and we bought some every time we were out there. We had the fresh noodles all summer long, and I froze a few to have in the fall when the market was over. When I was all out of the fresh pasta, I went back to the standard store-bought dried pasta to make some spaghetti. My daughter frowned and said, “Mom, there’s something wrong with this pasta, it doesn’t taste good at all.” I figured that making my own was probably a good idea.
I wish I could say I was at all GOOD at making pasta. I’m not. I have a pasta maker now, and I am still learning how to make it work. The dough is easy- flour and egg. Sometimes working the dough is hard, and making noodles that are uniform and beautiful can be tricky, even with the fun toys to help you. The trick, it seems, is to run your dough through the pasta maker several times- like 6-8 times, folding it in half and adding more flour each time until it becomes a cohesive sheet that you can then cut into the type of pasta you want. I want to be the person that makes it look easy to form your own pasta noodles, but mostly I make a mess. A very delicious mess!
The first thing I made was ravioli. I tried making it all by hand without a pasta maker, but I could never get the pasta sheets thin enough. Now, however, I could get them thin and uniform and they were lovely. As long as you ignored the flour and egg everywhere on the counters and floors, you could almost think that I knew what I was doing!
The point is that cooking is sometimes an adventure where there is a learning curve. Not every nifty gadget is going to make you look like a professional chef. Practice and experience will eventually pay off if you keep working at it.
Basic Homemade Pasta
1 cup flour
Pour flour into a pile, and create a hole in the middle of the pile. Crack your egg into the hole, and use a fork to carefully work in the flour. A teensy bit of oil or water can be used to work in all of the flour as needed. A little bit of salt can also add to the flavor if desired. For more pasta, simply increase flour and eggs. Cut and shape as desired. (Jana’s Note: You can do a part wheat part white on this and there are a lot of flavor combinations which can be added from chopped fresh herbs to powdered spices. Just don’t go too overboard as it can affect the way the dough rolls or cooks. I also tend to add about a tsp of that crazy Ultra Gel stuff as it helps the dough form up and keeps it from getting too dry as it waits to go into the water.)
Cheese Filling for Raviolis
1 container ricotta cheese
½ cup fresh grated Italian cheeses- Asiago, Romano and Parmesan in any proportions you like.
½ cup cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Roll out pasta dough to be very thin. Cut out with a glass or biscuit cutter. Lay out one circle of pasta, put a teaspoonful of cheese in the center. Top with another circle of pasta. Crimp together with a fork around the edges. Bring a pot to boil, and boil for 2-3 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta sauce.