Several weeks ago we talked with some friends of ours about having a cooking day with them. They love to be in the kitchen like we do, so we decided to get together and make homemade pasta. Yesterday we finally made that happen! It’d been a while since we’ve had time to actually enjoy cooking and I was reminded how much I love it. Lately we’ve been so busy that meals are often determined by how quickly we can prepare them. Taking our time (this meal took hours to prepare) was a real treat.
Check us out – this was taken post-cooking and we’re not even a huge mess! Sam (on the right) is the blogger behind I Enjoy Stuff, by the way.
Our meal consisted of French bread (Sam handled this – she started the process before we even got to their house), Fettuccine noodles with meat sauce and spinach ravioli with an absolutely AMAZING pesto sauce (again, made by Sam). I’m assuming she’ll be sharing the recipe for it on her blog soon, and I’ll be sure to post a link to it once she does. Believe me, you’ll want to make it for yourself – it’s sooo good. We had the Dove Chocolate Discoveries chocolate mousse for dessert, of course.
I made the pasta dough, and used this recipe:
- 2 cups of semolina flour
- 2 1/3 cups of all purpose flour
- 7 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Typically pasta dough is made by sifting together the dry ingredients, then piling them in a mound, making a well in the center, breaking the eggs into the well, and mixing everything by hand. I didn’t really feel like making a huge mess on our friends’ kitchen counter, so instead I opted to mix everything with a dough hook in the Kitchen Aid mixer, and it turned out just fine.
Once you’ve mixed your dough together, check the consistency. If it feels too dry, add another egg or a little bit more olive oil; if it’s too sticky, add a little extra all purpose flour. When you’re happy with it, place it in a large Ziploc bag and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
We have a pasta machine (hand-cranked) that we brought with us to use – we love this thing! Not only is it a lot cheaper than the automated ones, there’s just something fun about rolling out the pasta ourselves. It takes two people to use it well, but again I think that’s part of the fun of it. Who wants to make pasta all by themselves, anyway? Here’s Brian and our friend making some pasta – and J even got in on the fun a little bit:
For those of you that’ve never made pasta, you run it through the roller multiple times on gradually thinner and thinner settings until you achieve the desired thickness. Let the sheets dry for 5-10 minutes, and then you can run them through the cutting portion of the machine. Ours does spaghetti and fettuccine noodles – the fettuccine is much easier to do, although we did try a little bit of spaghetti too. After your pasta is cut, you let it dry until you’re ready to use it. When we first started making pasta, we’d lay it out to dry but that takes up a lot of space. We eventually invested in a pasta drying rack, which is only about $12 and definitely worth it. If you’re handy, you could probably pretty easily make your own.
I also made some ravioli for us to have – Sam whipped together a filling with spinach, ricotta and some seasoning, and then I used my ravioli press to make the job pretty easy. It still takes a little bit of time, but you end up with consistent, pretty ravioli.
First, take a sheet of pasta and lay it out over the metal portion of the press. Then take the plastic portion and gently press it over the sheet of dough, creating small divots for you to place your filling:
Be careful not to over-fill! That was my initial tendency, but then I learned that less is more when you’re making ravioli.
Next, put a little bit of water along what will be the edges of your ravioli – this just helps the pasta sheets stick together better. Lay another sheet of pasta over the top of your filling and then use a rolling pin to press the dough down into the metal. You should be able to remove the excess dough around the edge of the press, and then flip it over to gently push each ravioli out – you’ll end up with these:
So, along with the meat sauce, pesto, bread and salad, we had a HUGE, delicious lunch (and dinner, really. That was the only meal of the day for Brian and me).
If you like to cook, I’d highly recommend making pasta – it’s a blast! You don’t even necessarily have to have equipment, although it does make it easier. You could roll your pasta with a rolling pin and cut it by hand if you’d like. It’s a lot of effort, don’t get me wrong, but the results are worth it, and the process itself is really rewarding. Plus, after you’ve eaten the fruits of your labor, you totally need a nap, right?
Have you ever made pasta from scratch before? If you have any good recipes, please share! And if you haven’t made it before, I hope you’ll give it a try soon and let me know how it goes. I think you might just get hooked!