A few years ago, Dr. Fiance wanted to make her own pasta, so for her birthday or maybe Christmas I bought her a pasta maker. I’m fairly certain we made pasta maybe once with the machine and then put it back into the box, put the box under or behind some other box and didn’t think of it again until I unearthed it after our move to St. Louis.
“Aha!” I say, pulling it out of its inner plastic wrapping. “What a perfect way to start off my cooking education. Fresh pasta!”
Cut to several hours later after I’d completed some moderately tasty, but completely un-photographable ravioli using Alton Brown’s recipe, I was remembering why we only made pasta once and never touched the machine again. While not a complete disaster, it wasn’t exactly the taste and visual home run that I was hoping for. I was unable to get my pasta sheets thin enough for the delicate, light construction I was hoping for. My ravioli tasted more like pierogi, thick and tough. They didn’t taste bad but they were ugly as hell.
It was tempting to put the machine back in its box and relegate it back into the dark depths of storage. However, the next day I decided to persevere and take another shot at it. I decided to take a step back and try to make some linguine. I found that part of my problem the first day was that I didn’t add enough flour to the sheets when running them through the machine. It still felt like it should have been a two person job when the past sheets got really long, but with a little practice I was able to get nice, long, reasonably even sheets of pasta, which I was then able to turn into very nice looking linguine.
After some research online I decided to tackle the pasta the old-fashioned way. Most recipes call for all-purpose flour or semolina (which apparently is very tough to work with) but when I went to get started I realized I was running short on all-purpose flour from my ravioli debacle the day before. So I ended up substituting whole wheat flour, which worked out great and is probably a good bit healthier too. Here is the recipe I ended up with:
50% Whole Wheat Pasta
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Make a nice, neat pile with the flour on a clean work surface – I use my butcher block table which is a nice height to work with. Mix the eggs, water, oil and salt together in a separate container. Make a hole in the middle of your pile of flour and gradually pour your liquid mix into the hole. Use a couple of fingers to mix the flour with the liquid until you have a nice ball of dough. Wrap this in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or so.
To make the pasta, cut your dough ball into manageable sections and press the first section into a rough rectangle shape. Keep the other pieces wrapped in plastic until you’re ready for them. Begin running your pasta through the machine at its widest setting. After the first pass, fold it in thirds, rotate 90 degrees and run it through again. Repeat this twice – this is essentially doing the kneading of the dough. Now you can begin to make the pasta sheets by carefully running each piece through the machine, one size thinner at a time. My machine (the Imperia SP150 Pasta Machine) has six settings, one being the thickest, six being the thinnest. Make sure you keep plenty of extra flour on hand to dust over the past so it doesn’t stick – the pasta has a tendency to get stuck on the outside of the machine as it slides into the press, which will cause it to tear.
You can either use the finished sheets to make ravioli or tortellini or lasagna, or you can run these sheets through the linguine or spaghetti cutter attachment on your past machine. Make sure to dry your pasta before using at least a little bit, which will give your pasta that al dente texture. I used a clothes hanger and let my pasta hang dry for most of the afternoon until dinner time.
I was very pleased by my second attempt at pasta. Dr. Fiance ended up having a faculty dinner that night, so I ended up making a splendid and simple sausage dish using my whole wheat pasta and I was absolutely bowled over by how good it was. I also drank the better part of a bottle of wine with it, which is why I don’t have any plated images of the dish. My plan is to make the same dish again when Dr. Fiance is around for dinner so I’ll post that recipe with pictures at a later date.