Yesterday was my 26th birthday, and I spent a fun evening with my favorite people. They loved the honey-lavender profiteroles that I served for dessert, so that made for a happy birthday girl.
My wonderful, generous parents bought me an Imperia pasta machine, and I had the opportunity to put it to its first use this afternoon. It is FABULOUS! Making pasta is a goal I’ve had for quite some time, and over the past few months, I’ve researched a variety of recipes and watched videos on making pasta at home. I felt adequately prepared for trying it out today. It’s amazingly simple and quick to make your own with a pasta machine, and the best part is that it only requires eggs and flour.
So for this month’s Our Growing Edge event (hosted by Bunny.Eats.Design), I will be documenting my first pasta-making experience. It was extremely satisfying lowering my tender, freshly-cut noodles into their big pot of salted, boiling water. The bowl of delicious, made-from-scratch, al dente pasta was encouraging. I’m really looking forward to trying filled pastas next…
The recipe I went with only calls for 1-2/3 cup of flour and two eggs. That’s it! It makes enough pasta for about four modest portions.
Out of all the information I sifted through, no one beats the eggs before adding them to the well of flour. Instead, they “fork” them within the delicate confines of flour. That just seemed nonsensical, so I lightly beat mine before adding them to the center of the well, in hopes of maintaining more “mess control.” (I still made a bit of a mess on the counter in spite of doing that extra precautionary step.)
I used unbleached all-purpose flour, but the majority of experienced pasta-makers recommend Italian “00” flour. Our grocery stores don’t carry this, so I used what we have. If, at some point, I run across “00” flour, I may try it and do a comparison. However, the texture and bite of this dough using all-purpose was perfect for our tastes.
So the neat, tidy process pretty much came to a halt after adding the eggs to the well. This part was the must unpleasant due to the mess it creates. Next time, I will just do the mixing in a bowl or mixer since the goal at this stage is just to incorporate the eggs with the flour. I suppose the idea of mixing the dough on the work surface is to minimize dish-washing, but the counter-cleaning is equally laborious. I’m also considering using my stand mixer next time to assist with the kneading.
Once the dough comes together (you may need to add tiny amounts of warm water if it seems too dry) into a smooth ball, cover it in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes. Some recipes recommend letting the dough rest for an hour, but others recommend as little as 10 minutes. I compromised and set it aside for a half hour at room temperature.
Next, you send it through the pasta machine’s rollers, starting with the widest setting and working your way to the ideal thickness for your chosen noodle. I ran mine through to the second-to-last thinness, and we were pleased with that.
This Imperia machine has limited cutting options “as is,” but there are several other attachments you can purchase.
The pasta now dries for about ten minutes before boiling so that they are less prone to sticking together. Apparently this drying period also helps shaped pastas hold their shape.
Another video I watched recommended sprinkling the noodles with cornmeal to prevent sticking and clumping; cornmeal is used instead of flour so that the boiling water doesn’t get gummy when the pasta is added. The cormeal just bows out and sinks to the bottom. Boil for about three minutes, add to your favorite sauce, and you’re finished!
Overall, I’m extremely pleased with my first attempt. The texture was silky and tender, yet perfectly al dente, and it was great with just a little tomato sauce, parsley, and cheese.
It’s so easy (and pretty fun!) that I’ll probably want to make the pasta for all of our pasta meals now. There’s so much experimenting that can be done with flavors, shapes, and fillings…endless possibilities.