Things We Love: Homemade Pasta Please! - Feb 13, 2019
Continuing our February theme of things we love, pasta in all shapes, forms and fillings, has to be one of our favorites. If you have never tried making it from scratch, it’s pretty easy. And a fabulous family thing to do.
The best way to make pasta is with a machine. The Atlas 150 calls itself The Original, is made in Italy, and comes with a 10-year warranty. The machine has a clamp to hold it down while you crank the dough through, and you quickly understand the need for the clamp as you start to make fresh pasta.
The basic dough is very dry. If it sticks to your fingers, it is not yet great dough. It will stick to the metal of the rollers on the machine and gum everything up. It is much easier to get the dough right than it is to clean out the machine. The basic dough only has two ingredients; eggs and flour. One secret to great pasta dough is room temperature eggs. Too cold (as in straight from the fridge) and the dough will not be manageable. Once the dough is right, you are ready to make pasta.
Round up the kids now as they will really like this part; cranking out the sheets as you transform dough into lovely lengths of spaghetti or fettuccine. Starting with a lump of dough, roughly 1/6 of your batch, start feeding it through the rollers at the most open setting (0). Dust the sheet with a bit of flour, fold it and feed it through again. You keep working the sheet like this until it has taken on a long rectangular shape.
Now you cut it in half and start to feed it through the rollers as you close them, one increment at a time. You need to reach a pasta sheet thickness of 5 on the setting knob for fettuccine and 7 for spaghetti. The sheets are fed through the upper cutter for fettuccine or spaghetti, an attachment that comes off for storage or to use other pasta attachments such as the one for making ravioli. The flat pasta sheet on its own is the basis for ravioli.
The booklet in the Atlas box has great hints on how to correct your pasta dough if it is too soft or too hard, and how to know if it is either of these in the first place. Once you have cut the pasta, it is hung to dry on a rack, out of the dog’s reach. The back of a chair covered in a flour dusted finely woven tea towel works too but put the dog out back first. Fresh pasta cooks much more quickly than does dried, and has so much more flavor.
Cleaning the machine is done once the bits of flour and dough have dried. They flake off with a brush. Never wash it in water; it will rust. The rollers and cutters are made from metals that do not leach into food. A bit of food grade oil at the ends of the rollers is really all the maintenance you need. Do make sure you store it in a dry place.
It’s February and Family Day is soon. Celebrate by creating warm memories and homemade pasta with your family. It will become a tradition.
Did you know? Orzo is often mistaken for rice but it is pasta. Rice-shaped, it is often found in Italian soups.
Cathy and staff
- Catherine Reid