Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hasta La Pasta

After my first trip to Italy about 10 years ago, I came home obsessed with making my own pasta.  Up until that trip my only experience with pasta was dried, from a box.  Fresh pasta is on a whole other level. It is heavenly.  I bought a hand crank pasta machine shortly after returning home.  I used it a couple of times and then it found its way into the small-kitchen-appliances-that-were-a-good-idea-at-the-time cupboard.  And stayed there for a very, very long time.  Up until this most recent summer break, I had kind of forgotten I even had it as was evident by the inches of dust on the box.  
I pulled it out out and cleaned it up over the summer and made a couple of batches - linguini and tagliatelle.
The making of the dough, even by hand, is pretty basic - flour/water, flour/egg, flour/egg/olive oil.  There are a few options, but all combined using a well of flour.  The challenging part (and the reason why the box was covered in dust) is the rolling and cutting of the dough.  It's difficult to turn the hand crank, feed the dough through, and catch it coming out all at the same time.  Three hands would be ideal for this job.  After the summer was over, the box was packed back up and put in the small appliance graveyard cupboard. Making pasta from scratch was just too time consuming once back to work.
For my birthday, however, I received pasta rollers and cutters that attach to my KitchenAid stand mixer.  While quite excited to try them out, I just didn't have the time to experiment...until this week! We had the entire week off for Thanksgiving.  Between family gatherings and art projects and chores, and leftovers, I found a little time to play with my new toys.
Oh my goodness!  It cut the time in half, maybe more!  The process is the same.  The only difference is the rollers/cutters turn on their own so both hands can be used on the dough.
After the dough had rested and was ready to work, the pasta sheets were rolled out in no time. I was able to divide the dough into fourths and it went right through.  On the hand crank, depending on the dough consistency (which changes as it sits out), I'd have to cut it into more pieces to make it work.  The sheets zipped through in seconds.  The cutters were most impressive.  The hand crank was very finicky and didn't always cut evenly or at all for that matter.  Again, in seconds the sheets were cut into tagliatelle. I wasn't ready to cook and serve it yet.  It kept nicely in the fridge on a floured pan until I was ready to boil it.  Originally I served it with a light tomato/basil sauce.
The next day, I heated the leftovers in pan with a little butter and a lot of garlic and topped with a little grana padano cheese.
They were both delicious!
Fresh pasta certainly isn't a 30 minute meal, but with the new tools I can see it being made more often than it was before.  Anyone need a hand crank pasta machine?
PS - There were so many photos I wanted to include so I put them into some basic collages.  That makes them a bit small, but the collage will enlarge into full size and make things easier to see...if you are so inclined.


  1. Is it the kind of prep you could do while doing a bunch of other prep too. And then have it stored for the week. Or could you do it once a month and store, or would that vitiate the idea of fresh pasta. I ask only as I've seen Italian women making it and them hanging it over thin sticks but I don't know if they leave it or cook it after a few hours resting.
    There is something about labour saving devices from Italy. They're tinny in that Made in Taiwan meaning. I've had garlic presses that I broke the handle in two without bruising the clove, virtually. And they only half work.
    Oh, next time you make it. When cooked, separate an egg or two and drop the yokes into the pasta with some smoked meat and stir.
    Best of pasta making :-)

    1. I believe it can be made ahead and kept for a bit. The hanging is to dry it a bit, I think. But I think it needs to be stored in the fridge or freezer due to the raw egg. I could get a couple of days before cooking it kept in the fridge and 1-2 months in the freezer. That's a good idea though - hammering out a big batch of it and then freezing in smaller amounts to just grab and go. The thought of doing that with the hand crank one, well I wouldn't have thought of it. The new rollers/cutters though, it would go rather quickly.
      The quality of the hand crank is unknown to me since i don't have anything to compare it too. But most of the how-tos I've read do say they are temperamental. I have little patience for that.
      Yum! That sounds good! I bet it would be even better with fresh pasta. ;)

  2. oh wow that looks delicious.. doubt I would ever make my own pasta but it looks great

    1. Ha! Ya, it's not part of my regular routine by any means. But I LOVE the idea of making it in large batches and having it whenever I want. It is fun at dinner parties! Kind of like a show. :)