One of my favorite things to make is fresh pasta. Taking such simple ingredients and transforming them into tortellini, ravioli, Farfalle and Pappardelle (yum). You can add different flavors to the dough, the opportunities are endless when you have thebase to a good quality pasta dough.
Even with the proper measurements, pasta dough may need to be tweaked based on the environment. Know what to do look for (feel, texture, look) is what will make you a master at making fresh pasta.
Why Use Semolina?
When I first started making pasta, I never used Semolina Flour. And, although, I thought my pasta tasted delicious, I could never figure out why whenever I went to my favorite pasta restaurant, their pasta just had this “oomph” mine didn’t. I finally was able to chat with Pino (the chef) one busy Saturday night and asked,”Pino, why does your pasta taste so good?” He said, ” Without semolina, your pasta has no soul”. Since then, I have mixed about half the flour with semolina and Let. Me. Tell. You. It makes a WORLD of difference. The texture is always perfect. It always has the “bite” you look for in fresh pasta.
Here’s a simple pasta dough recipe:
Combine flour, semolina, and salt in a small bowl. Pour onto a clean surface and make a well. In a small bowl add the eggs and olive oil; whisk until combined. Pour the egg mixture into the well and grab a good ol’ fork. Slowly incorporate the flour until the mixture is combined and start working with your hands. Slowly work until it forms a dough. Knead the dough until the dough feels similar to play-doh. If the dough is too wet, add more flour; if the dough is crumbly or not moulding together properly, add a small amount of water. Once you have a good feeling dough, wrap in saran wrap and let rest. If you can let it rest an hour – great! But, if not, this recipe will be good after 10 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, dust some flour and get out your pasta making machines. Divide your ball of dough into 4 and keep the rest under saran wrap to prevent it from drying out. Start thinning out your dough (remember – the pasta will expand in the water so make it thinner than you expect).
You can now make the pasta into whatever your heart desires. The machines usually offers a few options but you can now use the pasta to make whatever you choose (such as tortellini, pappardelle or ravioli).
Bring a large pot to a boil* and season heavily with salt (the water should taste like the sea). Add the pasta. Depending on the type of pasta will determine your time; If you are cooking anything unstuffed (i.e., ravioli/tortellini) the pasta should take less than a minute to cook. If stuffed, time for 2 minutes. Keep in mind what you are doing after the pasta is cooked i.e.; are you sautéing with a sauce? If you are, make sure you spare time in the water so that you don’t overcook with your sauce. Mushy noodles are not good for anyone.
Some Tips *
- Make sure you have a lot of water to boil. Don’t overcrowd the pot.
- The pasta water will help the pasta suck up flavor – don’t rinse.
- Add a drizzle of olive oil/butter to prevent the pasta from sticking to each other after cooked. It will also add some extra flavor.
- NEVER overcook your pasta. Fresh pasta takes less than a minute to cook and less than 2 minutes if stuffed. No one wants to eat mush/
That’s It! Play Around and Enjoy!