As Winter Storm Pax is continuing to show its wrath in Athens and in the majority of the Southeastern United States, I’ve suddenly been handed a LOT of extra time. Snow and ice are covering the roads completely, so classes at UGA have been cancelled yesterday, today, and tomorrow (no word on Friday yet). PRAISE HIM FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW, cause I ain’t afraid of a little cabin fever. With all this time stuck at home, no schoolwork in sight, and while we’re still blessed to have power, I decided to whip out some cookbooks and give some tricky recipes a go. The first thing on my list was to finally use the pasta maker I got for Christmas. I’ve wanted a pasta maker for longer than I can remember, so naturally when I opened the shiny stainless steel Fante’s wooden crank machine I fell in love. And today once I set everything up, I fell in love again.
If you know anything about my love for food, you know that I would gladly eat pasta 4 days a week and be perfectly content with my life (the other three would be saved for fried chicken, of course). Pasta is such a versatile dish; it’s a blank canvas that screams to be painted. And it can be painted with every color under the Tuscan sun (see what I did there). The foundation of a good pasta dish is a good noodle, and the secret to a good noodle is all in the dough. So with Dean Martin playing in the background and the Olympics on the TV, here’s what I did with my snow day:
Fresh Pasta Dough
- 2 c semolina flour
- 1/2 c + 2 Tbsp. water
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
1. Assemble all ingredients and equipment.
A few tips on assembly:
- Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper to prevent sticking, use clothespins to hold down the corners of the paper on the pan.
- If possible, set up your pasta machine on a corner of your counter. This makes it accessible from two sides instead of just one, and will make your life 10x easier.
2. Place flour in a mound on lined jelly roll pan. Make a well in the surface.
3. Add water, salt and oil.
4. Using a fork, gently start to work flour from the side of the well into the liquid mixture. Continue until dough becomes sticky and difficult to work with the fork.
5. Knead by hand to make a rough looking dough. Let dough rest 10 minutes.
A few tips on kneading:
- Push the down down and back with both hands
- Fold the dough from the back to the front
- Rotate 90 degrees and repeat
6. Knead dough until most of the flour is used and dough is smooth and elastic; about 10 minutes.
7. Unpin parchment paper and wrap around dough, securing with one clothespin. Set aside to rest 30 minutes.
8. Divide the dough into 4 sections.
9. Flatten one section with hands to about an inch in thickness, place other sections in Ziploc bag to prevent drying out.
10. Set your pasta machine to the widest setting (1) and flatten the dough, running it through setting twice. Set the flattener setting one notch smaller and run the dough through twice again. Continue narrowing your machine, running the dough through once at each setting, until the dough is as thin as possible. You may need to cut the dough to make it shorter and more manageable.
11. Once the first section of dough is completely flattened and thinned, you are ready to cut your pasta. Hold the dough into the cutter and crank it through all the way. After finishing one section, move on to the others. (I attached instructions on how to use a pasta maker at the bottom of this post that are really helpful).
12. Allow noodles to dry at least 15 minutes before cooking. I used a clothes drying rack to dry my pasta on, but you can use almost anything!
A little info on semolina flour: Semolina flour is high protein flour made from durum wheat. When making pasta, it is very important to use a high protein flour to avoid mushy noodles. All purpose flour is featured in many pasta recipes you find online, but I strongly recommend using semolina. I know it might be a little harder to find, but it’s definitely worth it. If you do have to use another type of flour, use the highest protein content you can find.