Making home made pasta: 101

I’ve been an avid MasterChef fan of late; which seems rather ironic to my family since I am not the best in the art of cuisine.

I enjoy food however lead a fairly chaotic life that I rarely have time to plan a meal any more complex then meat and three veg.  However, I was inspired! After watching a relatively delicious cooking episode that involved home made egg pasta….I wanted to give it a go.  It looked pretty fail safe.  A bit of flour, some eggs, a bit of kneading…voilà….pasta.  Yeah…not so much.

It was a tough day, full of excitement, uphill battles, disappointments and then excitement again.  It also taught me a lot.  In light of my new love for cooking, I thought I’d share what I have learned during my first attempt at making pasta.

  1. Do not undertake an ‘arms’ session at the gym a day prior to making pasta.  KNEADING was the word of the day.  I kneaded that dough like my life depended on it.  Thank goodness my little arms were not sore from the gym or over-exhausted because there was no way I would have survived the 1 hour session of kneading.
  2. Be well rested and prepared. You will need to be well rested and relatively functioning to undertake the making of the home made pasta.  In my personal opinion, this would not be a dish you would try and make after a big night out.  Kneading and pasta making is not for the hungover.
  3. Choose the right pasta recipe for you.  I noticed there were several home made pasta recipe variations. Some with whole eggs, some with egg yolk only, some with 5 eggs and some with 10.  Know what ingredients you need and most importantly know what pasta you need to make.  This brings me to point 4.
  4. Plan.  Have an idea of what pasta you want to make.  As in…spaghetti, pap deli, ravioli, rigatoni, lasagne, fettuccine, pene and the list goes on.  It’s best to know I found, because this could also determine the best pasta recipe for you. And knowing what pasta you want to make can also influence your other ingredients.
  5. Be patient.  Pasta is definitely not a quick-fix meal.  After your kneading of the pasta dough comes the waiting and sitting of the pasta dough.  Some recipes call for 2-3 hours in the fridge for optimum pasta goodness.  I was relatively prepared for waiting however could only stretch it out to 1.5 hours; anything less and your pasts efforts would be thwarted. So be prepared to wait.
  6. Know your equipment. I knew the use of the trusty pasta maker machine would be a challenge for me, and I wasn’t wrong.  However, after attentive coaching from my sister, I was well under way to rolling and stretching the best pasta out there. Again, this required the utmost time and patient and….point number 7.
  7. Be persistent.  You will fail! Rolling out pasta is not easy.  So I learned.  It takes a couple (20+) goes of rolling out the perfect sheet of pasta and I want to emphasis point 1, 2, and 5 again.  Because cranking that little rolling arm on the pasta maker is not as easy as it looks.  You will get tired.  You will want to give up…but don’t…your perfect pasta awaits you.
  8. Innovate.  As a first time pasta maker, I wasn’t as entirely prepared as I thought I was.  You will need to hang your freshly pressed, stretched and cut pasta to dry.  We did not have the suitable equipment to do this…until we became inventive and used our old clothes horse as a pasta hanger.  I had a slight panic attack around the germ factor (germaphobe here) however I just figured all the germs would be killed in the cooking process.  All was well!
  9. Share.  After all that hard work I can understand how you may want to devour all your pasta to yourself after all the blood, sweat and tears you’ve just put into it (:/) however…don’t be g reedy and share your efforts.  Let others know how awesome you are at making home made pasta and allow them to try your wonderful creation.  Sharing is caring.

And that wraps up my top tips for making a good pasta dough.  I’d love to hear if anyone else struggled as much as me or am I just special like that 🙂