Homemade pasta is something that a lot of people are intimidated by. I’m not. I never had a chance to be. One of my earliest memories is standing beside my aunt’s kitchen table cranking out miles of fresh egg noodles. Out came her stainless steel bowl, one so large that I couldn’t have reached my arms around it if I’d tried. I don’t remember her measuring, but into the bowl went a mound of flour and a bit of salt. She made a well in the center to hold the eggs, which were gathered fresh moments before. Cracking the eggs was my job. She fished out bits of shell as needed and without comment. Eggs and flour were whisked together with her fingertips and the ingredients came together first as goo and then as a shaggy, floury mass. The dough became a silky yellow lump under the warmth of her hands. Then I took my turn at kneading, not realizing at the time that she had done all the hard work. The Atlas pasta maker with its hand crank was clamped to the table. She feed in the dough, and I turned the handle. Sheets of pasta emerged from the rollers. The ribbons were fed though again to be reincarnated as wide egg noodles or spaghetti. Lunch on those days was always buttered egg noodles with just a bit of salt and pepper, and it was amazing.
I use my Kitchen Aid to mix my pasta dough these days, giving it only a minute or two of hand kneading. The stand mixer motor takes the place of a hand turned crank. The eggs come from the farmers market rather than my backyard. But the process really isn’t that different than it was twenty-some years ago.This Saturday, three dear friends and I made pasta together, taking turns at the rollers and helping each other drape and cut the whisper thin sheets of dough. Lunch was homemade lasagna, and it was amazingly good.
4 large eggs
1 T water
3 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
By hand: Mound flour and salt in bowl or on counter. Add eggs into a depression in the center. Gradually whisk four into eggs until incorporated. Knead into a smooth, homogenous dough.
By mixer: Place eggs, water, flour, and salt in mixer bowl. Mix with beater attachment on speed 2 and for 30 seconds. Exchange beater for dough hook. Turn to speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 to 2 minutes
Continue for both methods: Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Divide dough into fourths before processing, keeping remaining dough covered. Roll dough to desired thinness with a rolling pin, wine bottle, or pasta machine. Cut as desired.
Fresh pasta only needs a minute or two in salty boiling water to be perfectly cooked. If making lasagna, there is no need to precook pasta sheets.
*Props to Dad for making my awesome pasta rack.