I love to cook. I hate doing the clean up/dishes, but I love to cook. I was so excited when I got a pasta maker for Christmas because it was something that had been on my wish list for a while. In theory, the recipe for pasta dough is very easy. And being that every Christmas season, the women in my family get together to make pierogis, the dough was the easy part; however, when the kids see I have a new toy, they want to try the new toy too! I never want to shy kids away from the kitchen (if they help or learn to cook it, there’s a better chance they’ll eat it), so as much as the inner me was screaming “noooooooo this is my perfect pasta moment,” the guilty mom in me let them get their hands dirty too.
The basic recipe for pasta dough from my Mercato Atlas Pasta Maker is 4 cups of flour (better if you can use half soft-wheat, half durum-wheat – I used all purpose) and 5 eggs. I could have probably cut that in half (we are a family of 5). If you have a pasta drying rack (which we bought the next night after realizing pasta needs a long time to dry out), make the extra anyway, dry it out and store in an airtight container.
Making pasta is messy. Like, really messy. You need a lot of flour when spreading it through the machine and rolling it out, so what I learned is it gets everywhere. I also learned having multiple hands helps (enter husband and kids). I must say, though, it was a lot of fun! The kids loved helping turn the crank and handling it as it stretches out into a long strand. It was exciting to see it being cut into thick or thin strands – I felt like a professional chef or a mama in Italy. I am definitely investing in a pasta cutter to make fun shapes.
Once we ran the dough through the machine about 5 or 6 times (folding in half after each time), you switch the crank to the other side and start cutting. Our pasta was a little thicker, as the short rib ragu recipe we were using called for fettuccine-type noodles. When the pasta is cut, lay it on a damp dish towel until all pasta is ready to go in boiling water.
Fresh pasta cooks in basically 2-3 minutes. The key to delicious pasta is to add salt when the water is boiling, so it distributes evenly. Do not be afraid of salt!! There is no salt in the dough itself, so seasoned water is the secret! As soon as the pasta rises to the top, it’s done. Strain it (saving some of the pasta water for your sauce if needed) and add it to your dish.
Here’s the reality check: I got the pasta maker for Christmas. I love it, but so far we’ve used it once. As noted above, it takes time and is super messy, so it’s probably something you really need to plan out. And if that’s something you just can’t picture yourself doing, that’s okay – I use the boxed kind all the time too! But it’s something fun to try – at least once…
Recipes (including the full dish pictured below) will be stored and posted in our Recipe tab (coming soon), so you can test everything out yourselves!