Give Pasta a Chance

 

The first time I made homemade pasta, I was twelve years old.  My Grandma Pack was coming for a visit and I was determined to impress her with my culinary skills.  I didn’t have any fancy equipment, just a rolling pin, a knife and hours of time.  I painstakingly followed the instructions from a cookbook I had checked out from the library, and not only made noodles but also made sauce from a pile of tomatoes and some fresh basil I had picked from the garden.  While a little on the rustic side (a rolling pin, come on!), I remember that pasta tasting so good and getting immense satisfaction from preparing a meal for people I loved, even if it had taken me all afternoon.  My grandma kindly told me it was some of the best pasta she had eaten, and she’d traveled all over the world.

Once I was married I got a pasta roller and my husband and I would sometimes open a bottle of wine and spend a couple hours making homemade ravioli or lasagna.  I eventually bought a motor for it to speed up the process, but making pasta was still something reserved for weekends and slow afternoons.

When I started testing recipes for this post I set aside an entire afternoon to begin but was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it all came together. Instead of just making the lasagna I had intended for dinner, I started cranking out fettuccini, spaghetti and bucatini.  Homemade pasta dinner in less than an hour?  Yes, please!!

In case you can’t tell, I pretty much think pasta is one of the greatest culinary inventions of all time.  It has received quite a bad rap over the years though, amidst the trends of gluten-free, no carb and ancient grains.  I personally don’t have a problem with occasionally eating white flour.  Some things just taste better that way.  But I also know it isn’t great for a body so I included a whole grain version as well.  Cause who doesn’t want to eat pasta as much as possible? I am going to go through each version since that will be the easiest way to explain both.  And just to clarify, I am not getting paid by any of the companies to link to their products.  These are just my own personal preferences for ingredient sources.

Standard Semolina Pasta:  Semolina flour comes from durum wheat.  Durum wheat is high in gluten and not usually used for baking, but makes excellent pasta.  The flour has a yellow hue to it and produces a pasta with an almost buttery taste to it.  THIS is the brand I used in my recipe testing and I like it a lot.  You might be able to find semolina flour at your local grocery store or specialty kitchen stores.

This pasta dough held up beautifully for both the meat grinder pasta discs and the lasagna attachment.  For the fettuccini and tagliatelle attachments, I preferred to run the dough through the lasagna roller a couple times first.  When I didn’t, the noodles were a bit shaggy looking but still held together fine.

homemade pasta2 (1 of 1)
bucatini pasta disc, semolina pasta dough. Lay out a sheet of wax or parchment paper to lay the noodles on as they come out of the machine.

Whole Wheat Durum Pasta: This is basically the whole grain version of semolina.  Again, an excellent flour for pasta.  If you mill at home, I order most of my grains from either Montana Flour and Grains or Bread Beckers, Inc.  Montana Flour and Grains also carries whole wheat durum flour.

The whole grain version held up exactly the same as the regular version in all the attachments.  My husband, who usually hates whole wheat pasta, thought the flavor was delicious, as did my daughter who happily gobbled up all my recipe testing.

Gluten Free Version: Since my first two versions turned out so nicely, I was sure my foray into brown rice pasta would be no big deal.  Ha!  I tried brown rice flour, sorghum flour, less liquid, more liquid, xanthan gum, letting the dough rest.  The dough always crumbled when I tried the roller attachments.  And while I could get my best version to feed through the meat grinder pasta discs, the noodles easily fell apart and clumped together when cooking.

homemade pasta3 (1 of 1)
brown rice pasta dough, tagliatelle pasta disc.

The flavor was actually fine, and very similar to the store bought brown rice pasta I buy all the time.

homemade pasta5 (1 of 1)
Although the flavor was good, the brown rice noodles fell apart and clumped together during cooking. (Bucatini and tagliatelle shapes)

But it made such a mess of the attachment that clean up was a headache.

homemade pasta4 (1 of 1)
This was real un-fun to clean.

So, alas, gluten intolerant friends, gluten-free pasta has been shelved for now, hopefully to be revisited in a future post if I can ever find the magical concoction.

For instructions on setting up the pasta discs for the meat grinder attachment, click HERE.  For the pasta roller attachments click HERE.  Featured color in photos: Pearl Orange.

Semolina Pasta Dough

Prep Time: 30-40 minutes (depending on type of noodle)

Cook Time: 3-4 minutes

 

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups semolina flour

 

Set up your Ankarsrum mixer with the plastic whisking bowl and single-wire whisks.  Add the first 4 ingredients and beat on medium speed (3 o’clock) until thoroughly combined.  Add in the flour and beat on low speed (1 o’clock) until the mixture begins to come together and form large clumps, approximately 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  You should be able to grab a small portion of dough, squeeze it together, and have it hold its shape.

homemade pasta1 (1 of 1)
Halfway through mixing, scrape down the sides. Mix until large clumps begin to form.

For the meat grinder pasta discs: Turn the machine on the lowest speed.  Scoop up small handfuls of dough and squeeze into a cylinder shape.  Feed through the meat grinder tube using the plunger.  Keep the remaining dough covered until you are ready to feed it through the machine.

Gently pinch off the noodles when they reach about a foot long and lay on wax or parchment paper until ready to cook.  Continue feeding all the dough through this way, making sure to keep the machine on the lowest speed.  If you turn the speed up, your noodles will come out shaggy and may break apart.

To cook: Place 4 quarts of water, 1-2 tablespoons of salt and, if desired, a drizzle of olive oil, in a large stockpot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Gently drop the noodles in boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes until al dente.

For the lasagna roller attachment:  Take a small handful of dough and flatten it out in your hands. Make sure you keep the rest of the dough covered until you are ready to use it or it will begin to dry out.

Set the lasagna roller to the widest setting and feed the dough through.  Fold the dough in half and feed through the next setting.  Fold the dough in half again and feed through the next setting.  Continue to fold the dough in half, adjust the setting and feed the dough through until you get down to the #2 setting.  Feed and fold through this setting twice.

PicMonkey Collage3
1: flatten dough 2: feed through widest setting 3: fold in half and adjust to next setting 4: run through again

Fresh lasagna noodles do not need to be pre-cooked.  Layer in pan with the rest of your lasagna ingredients and bake as usual.

For the fettuccini and tagliatelle roller attachments: If you have the lasagna roller, I would recommend feeding the dough through it as stated above through the 4 widest settings.  This will give you a nice flat sheet to feed through the attachments.  If you don’t have the lasagna roller, flatten out a portion of the dough with your hands or a rolling pin before feeding it through the attachments.

To cook: Place 4 quarts of water, 1-2 tablespoons of salt and, if desired, a drizzle of olive oil, in a large stockpot.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Gently drop the noodles in boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes until al dente.

 

Yield: 12 1/2 ounces pasta, 4-6 servings

 

Cook’s Notes: This recipe can easily be doubled.  Just double all the ingredients and follow the instructions as usual.  

The fresh pasta can be made 2 days in advance.  For noodles: gently dust and toss with a bit of semolina flour. For lasagna sheets: dust each side with a small amount of semolina flour and carefully fold or stack.  Place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. 

 

Whole Wheat Version

-Replace the semolina flour with equal parts whole wheat durum flour

-Reduce the water by 1 tablespoon

-Follow the instructions as stated above

 

 

 

Published by

Carmi Adams

Carmi Adams has loved cooking from a very early age; requesting fondue pots and cookbooks for birthdays as a child. She further pursued her passion for food at the Art Institute of Atlanta and obtained a degree in Culinary Arts. Carmi landed a job on the show Good Eats, which aired on the Food Network. For seven years she did everything from food research, recipe development and testing, product testing to feeding a hungry film crew. Now living in the central coast of California, Carmi enjoys the bounty of agriculture, vineyards and farmers markets at her culinary disposal. She has been using the Ankarsrum mixer for over 15 years and feels that it is hands-down the best on the market for home cooks.