Open Thread: The Pasta-bilities


Pasta is pretty much my favorite food group. Fettuccine, vermicelli, angel hair, rice noodles, udon, pasta-stuffed breadbowls — I love it all. I don’t write about it so much here because I usually just eat the pre-packaged dried stuff. Boring. But there’s nothing better than going out to a great Italian place and remembering how much more amazing the fresh stuff is.

For Christmas this year I got something I’ve been wishing for several years running now: a shiny new pasta machine. I tore out the directions that came with the box and whipped up some fresh raviolis. And by whipped up I mean spent three freaking hours cooking. Damn, this is time-consuming. Also, I just didn’t love ’em. I mean, they were fine. But not a hundred times better than regular old, out-of-the-box pasta. Clearly, I’m not expecting the first attempt to be Batali quality, but I am a little bit at a loss as to where I go from here. That’s where you come in.

I know tons of you guys have homemade pasta tips, right? What recipes do you use? Do I need a special flour? A new unitasker? Kneeding advice? Ancient family secrets? Bring it all.

Feed me!

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  • Molly February 8, 2010  

    I’m curious, too. My fiance and I really enjoy pasta as well and I’ve been trying to decide if I want to put a pasta machine like you have pictured on my bridal registry, or attachment for my Kitchen-Aid mixer…if anyone has any experience with both, or either….I’d love to hear. We got engaged in Rome a month ago, and spent that week eating amazing pasta dishes…I’d love to be able to recreate some of those meals at home….

  • Shana February 8, 2010  

    I usually use this recipe: (basically, two eggs and a cup of flour), let my food processor do most of the work, knead it a bit, then roll it out and cut it by hand. I am currently in the market for a ravioli mold, as such: as they are supposed to make that process a lot easier. I love my homemade, handcut noodles though. They taste amazing. And I just use regular large eggs and all-purpose flour.

  • Stephen Hait February 9, 2010  

    I will second method Shana links to. That’s the recipe we use. We don’t use a food processor, though, as it’s ready in almost no time without it. And we just cut the pasta by hand with a knife to whatever shapes we want after rolling the dough thin with a rolling pin. It takes longer to boil the water than it does to make the pasta. Plus it’s fun if you’re 7 years old.

  • Liza February 9, 2010  

    Here’s my Great Grandma (Mama Susie) recipe and tips (and she just turned 103 on Feb 1st!): In keeping with my family tradition, I only make noodles for Thanksgiving and Christmas. According to Mama Susie, It’s all about the humidity – which of course you can’t really control, and I don’t think our generation is as in tune to the humidity as they were in the 1910s. When I make noodles in DC, I kneed the dough a lot – however, when I made noodles in Tulsa, the kneeding ruined it and I had to start over.

    Beat 2 eggs well
    add 2 tsp of salt, and 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of flour depending on the humidity (I swear that’s what it says) – I always end up using more flour but you don’t want the dough too thick to roll out.
    Mix with a fork until egg and flour are blended.
    Shape into a ball, and divide the ball of dough in half and roll out each half as thin as you can get.

    I’m not sure what the process is with a pasta maker, but with these noodles, you have to let them dry, which, of course, also depends on the humidity.

  • Jason Sandeman February 9, 2010  

    I like to use 00 semolina. I use a 3 egg to 1 pound flour ratio. I mix by hand, let it rest, then process it through the machine.

  • Rubygirl February 24, 2010  

    I am with Liza, it does depend on the humidity in your kitchen. I enjoyed the “picture recipe” from the Pioneer Woman. Don’t forget that if you boil them in homemade broth it makes a world of difference. Nothing better than noodles!!

  • deb March 18, 2011  

    In response to Molly, although its more than a year since you posted so….I’ve used both and now have neither — If you really decide you’re going to make pasta often (I thought I would) then I would recommend getting a dedicated maker — I found the kitchenaid attachment difficult to use and somewhat unsteady. Neither take up much room and are both relatively inexpensive so its not a bad thing to have on had even if you only use it once or twice a year

  • Sharon May 28, 2011  

    I cheat and buy Al Dente Pasta, so much easier, and my kitchen stays cleaner! LOL! It tastes exactly like homemade, because it is handmade in their factory, and cooks in just 3 min.

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