I didn’t really enjoy pasta when Kris and I met. The only memory I had of pasta that made me go “wow!” was this time I had spaghetti in Italy. I and my friend encountered a little old man in the streets of Naples who offered to take us to a great place to eat spaghetti. As we followed this harmless looking little man, we quickly found ourselves in a very quiet dead-end alley. As we turned into the alley, I became a little concerned. But we followed him — all the way to the end of the alley, where he turned into the last door. It was this very tiny little room (maybe 20′ x 20′) with a kitchen in the back, and a little old lady cooking away. There were only five or six little round tables in the room, and the only patrons were other little old people just hanging out. Our guide went to the woman and conferred with her for a moment. A few minutes later my friend and I had two heaping plates of spaghetti and a two liter of Coca Cola. It was phenomenal.
Store bought pasta just never did it for me after that. Kris and I, feeling emboldened by our other culinary successes, tried our hand at homemade pasta. Eventually, we acquired the essential book for anyone serious about making good pasta: Williams-Sonoma Mastering Pasta, Noodles, and Dumplings. We’ve, of course, tweaked the recipe to make it healthier by using whole wheat flour instead of white flour only. The result is truly a pasta I don’t get tired of eating. I love pasta like this. You will, too.
- 3 Cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- 1 Cup Unbleached White Flour
- 4 Large Eggs
- 2 tsp Olive Oil
- Let eggs equalize with room temperature
- Start water boiling (add 1 TBSP salt per quart)
Mix the eggs and oil in a small bowl. Combine white flour and 21/2 cups of wheat flour in a bowl. Add eggs and oil. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add extra flour until dough is moist but not sticky. The dough should be pliable, but if you pinch it, it should return to shape. Knead the dough by folding it in half then flattening it out by pushing it away from you several times. Only knead for a couple of minute. Place dough ball under a glass bowl on a towel and let dough rest for 20 – 30 mins. Tear off golf ball sized pieces of dough and flatten into coin shapes about 1/4″ thick. Roll each coin through pasta rollers on thickness setting one. Fold the pasta sheets into thirds and run through again. Repeat two or three times. Roll each sheet through pasta rollers on thickness setting 2 – 5, only once per thickness setting. Roll sheets through pasta cutter of choice (fettucine, round spaghetti, square spaghetti, etc). Drop pasta in boiling salt water and boil for about 5 mins or until tender. Pasta will begin to float when it’s nearly done.
So now you know why Brandon hates American pasta, but he only told his side of the story. I like pasta for the most part, and I had resigned myself to decent store bought stuff. But Brandon got me a hand-crank pasta machine for Christmas two years ago, with a combination fettucine and spaghetti cutter. We experimented for over a year with different recipes we found online, first with all purpose and semolina flours, then whole wheat and semolina flours. We didn’t know until we got the Pasta book that you don’t need eggs and semolina flour in the same pasta. Turns out they’re used for different things. Semolina is used to make shaped pastas like ravioli, not straight pasta. Making pasta at home is fun, even more so since I got a KitchenAId upright mixer this Christmas. If you don’t have one, you should get one. They really do make cooking at home much easier. If you prepare this recipe on a weekend, you can freeze half of the pasta to use later, so you can have fresh pasta for dinner during the week. Rolling it out takes about 20 minutes, and fresh pasta cooks in about 5 minutes. Seriously. And it tastes so much better than anything you can get at a store, or most restaurants, for that matter.