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Making pasta at home is fun and easy, and the flavor of fresh pasta compliments lots of sauces. For families with children, making pasta can be a fun way to teach basic kitchen skills and get kids interested in working in the kitchen. Plan on adding approximately half an hour to food preparation time if you intend to make pasta at home.
To make pasta at home, you will need one piece of vital equipment: something to roll out and cut the dough with. At the most basic, you can use a rolling pin and a large cutting board, but you will probably find it easier to use a hand cranked pasta machine to make pasta. These pasta machines can be found in kitchen supply stores, and there are many small, affordable models which clamp onto the counter for easy use. You can also find a fully automated version, which will mix and knead the dough for you, but since this is the easy part, you may want to save money by mixing the dough yourself.
To make pasta, start by combining two cups of flour with three large eggs, a teaspoon of salt, and a tablespoon of oil. Mix the dough with a fork until it has started to combine, and then work with it by hand to form a ball of dough. If the dough seems dry, add a few drops of water, but try to prevent it from becoming moist and sticky. Turn the pasta dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it for approximately five minutes, longer if the dough is not yet smooth and elastic. Next, divide the dough into smaller balls and let them rest for 15 minutes, to relax the gluten in the flour. This is an important step when you make pasta, and it will prevent the noodles from being gummy or rubbery. Put the balls into a large bowl and cover the bowl with a damp towel so that they will not dry out.
Next, roll out your pasta dough. Take a single ball and flatten it out, keeping it within the width of the pasta machine. Set the machine on its highest setting, and crank the dough through. Do the same with all of the other balls, and then reduce the setting on the pasta machine. Keep doing this until the dough has reached the desired thickness. If you are cutting the dough in the pasta machine, use the cutting attachment, which will turn the dough into long strips of pasta. Most pasta machines come with several cutting attachments so that you can choose from thick or thin. You can also make pasta shapes, creating bow ties or twisted noodles, but cut the dough wide so that you have material to work with. Some pasta machines have a ravioli making attachment, if you want to try your hand at making filled pasta.
After you make pasta, you can either dry it on screens or racks, or use it immediately. Remember that fresh pasta takes less time to cook than dried pasta, and taste the pasta while it is cooking periodically to check on the texture. Once the pasta is cooked and drained, you can toss it with a sauce or eat it plain, enjoying the rich and intense flavor. If you would like to vary the flavor a bit when you make pasta, try mixing whole wheat and regular flour, adding dried spices to the pasta dough, or cracking fresh pepper into the flour mixture.
Pasta is rather simple to make at home, however it does take some time. Of course these days, time is what we all need more of, or, sometimes we would rather be doing something else.
My mother used to make pasta on weekly basis. Usually for a Sunday meal.
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