Why Is Homemade Pasta So Intimidating to So Many?

Row Pasta To so many of us, making pasta usually means opening a cellophane bag, or a cardboard box and the end product usually winds up tasting remarkably like the package the pasta came out of.  Sure, there are...

Row Pasta
Row Pasta

To so many of us, making pasta usually means opening a cellophane bag, or a cardboard box and the end product usually winds up tasting remarkably like the package the pasta came out of.  Sure, there are imported pastas available that pack more of a flavor punch, but they tend to be cost prohibitive and still don't seem to give the same satisfaction that a wonderfully chewy piece of fresh pasta can.

Despite being, quite possibly, one of the easiest foods for a cook to make in the kitchen, pasta remains shrouded in the myth of "things that are easier to buy than make."  Forever pushed onto the "maybe another day" page in many a cook's repertoire, there is no logical reason to eschew fresh pasta for almost any dish requiring delicious noodles.  Still, fresh pasta seems to be nearly as rare to nosh at a dinner party, or as part of a weeknight meal, as fresh baked croissants, or coq a vin.

Yet, one should ask, why is homemade pasta so intimidating to so many? The ingredient list for pasta is remarkably short, and consists of items almost any cook keeps routinely on hand.  Flour, salt, olive oil and water are the basics for a great pasta noodle.  If you are feeling frisky, an egg.  If you are feeling really frisky, six eggs.  You can of course add extras like tomato , or spinach puree, fresh herbs, even squid ink (if you just happen to have any laying about), but like the condiments you put on a hamburger, anything aside from the main ingredients remains completely dependent on personal taste and are unnecessary to make delicious fresh pasta.

Ingredients
Ingredients

Truly the only "trick" of pasta making lies in preparing the dough using your hands.  Homemade pasta should, at least for the dough stage, also be handmade pasta.  Sure, stand mixers with hooks are amazing devices that can simplify so many tasks we intrepid cooks take on.  Yet when it comes to making pasta, the feel of the dough really should be judged the good old fashioned way, as it squishes through your hands.

Whether you use semolina flour, or whole wheat; eggs, oil, or both; the key to perfect pasta every time is in knowing what a good, pliable pasta dough feels like.  A perfect dough will be squishy, like play-dough, but not gooey.  It will form easily onto a ball, but once kneaded, will have enough gluten formed to make it somewhat resistant to being pulled apart.

Pasta Dough
Pasta Dough

The easiest mistake to make while making your fresh pasta by hand is the amount of water used.  Too much water and you have a sloppy mess that will not roll well.  Adding water in stages and incorporating slowly until the right pliancy is achieved will keep a dough from becoming too sticky.  Alternatively, a lack of water leads to dry, crumbling dough better suited for doggie treats than dinner.

In order to achieve a pliant pasta dough, always keep a small cup, or bowl of cold water on hand.  Make your recipe as instructed, knowing that you can remedy dry dough by adding a teaspoon of water until the right consistency is acquired.  No matter if the recipe calls for a cup of water and you have already used that cup--adding water a teaspoon at a time until all the flour is absorbed and the dough is easily manipulated, but not sticky will keep you from creating a dreaded crumbling pasta horror show.

Once you have felt the perfect pasta that has come together beautifully, rolled and cut like a dream

and cooked to a tender, al dente with the quintessential chewiness, you will never again forget the feeling.  That "touch memory" will work as a guide, refusing to lead you astray from that day forward.

Pasta Machine
Pasta Machine

Of course, once you have achieved the perfect homemade pasta dough, you could roll the dough out and cut it by hand.  Cooks have done it for centuries after all.  Or, you could make your life easier with a Marcato Atlas Pasta Machine.  This wonder of kitchenware is incredibly versatile, allowing the user to roll, and cut with only a swap of the handle.  Cooks can roll their pasta to their desired thickness with a click of the dial and then cut their own pasta sheets, and various types of noodles with easy to use attachments.

Why settle for tasteless pasta?  Make fresh, delicious homemade pasta dough every time with these simple rules and of course, roll and cut your pasta precisely with the Marcato Atlas Pasta machine.   Be warned however, pasta making is highly addictive to those who foray into the practice.  Without extreme self control, you too could find yourself delving into tortellini and ravioli, or even... gnocchi (gasp)!

Contact us today for all your pasta and kitchenware needs.