So we brought out the pasta making machine today, after a long break, and within 30 minutes we had sheets and sheets of fettuccine drying on the kitchen bench. Again, I cannot stress enough that fresh pasta is significantly better tasting than dried pasta, and it is *very* straight forward to make, particularly if you have a pasta machine! (To be fair, I wouldn’t bother without one!). It also stores well – either dried in the pantry or frozen in the freezer (funny that). In both cases, you just pop it in boiling water when you want to eat it. It only takes a few minutes to cook through.
I’ve blogged the main recipe I use for pasta before. Today we swapped out the optional oil with about 2 tbsp of finely chopped basil. (We had also to add a tbsp or two of water to get the dough to come together).
One thing we are enjoying quite often these days is vegetable spaghetti – basically just very thin strips of zucchini and carrot, often in the place of pasta with a pasta sauce or meatballs.
Now, I’m sure you can make these thin strips using a knife and sweet chopping skills, but we invested instead in a vegetable julienne peeler (this exact one actually) and have found it to work a treat!*
To cook, we just stick them in a microwave proof bowl and microwave for a couple of minutes on high, stirring every minute of so. You can also steam them, but you are more likely to end up with mushier vegetables ( or at least *I* am!) and microwaving is way quicker anyway.
*Note: You will be left with some pieve of vegetable which you can’t further julienne with the peeler (or it becomes hazardous to your fingers to do so!). I normally just chop them up as finely as I can and add them to the mix – or you can just eat them as a raw snack before dinner!!
I always forget how much better fresh pasta is than it’s dried counter parts – and really doesn’t take that long. We made some on the weekend, using the recipe below, but substituting some of the plain oil with some sun dried cherry tomatoes and the oil that they’re preserved in. It gave the past a lovely colour. We made some fettuccine and lasagna sheets, and brought out the ravioli making machine for only the second time ever (I’ve probably had it 14 odd years) for some stuffed pasta. It worked ok, but to be honest I think it’s just as easy to make them by hand ( though cranking them out is kinda fun!)
Egg Pasta Dough
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
Sift the flour onto a smooth work surface. Hollow out a well in the top of the mound like a volcano. Crack the eggs into the well and add salt and oil if desired. Gradually combine with the surrounding flour until all combined. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand, adding more flour if the dough is sticky. Knead for 5-10 minutes, or use your pasta machine on the widest setting to knead it, by passing it through the rollers until smooth. (I use the pasta machine – seems much more efficient!!)
Final note: the most useful book I have on pasta I bought from Target from the bargain book bin – ‘Pasta: Sauces and Fillings for All Shapes and Sizes’ by Constance Jones. (1993 paperback – seems to be out of print now)