Biting into a piece of al dente, fresh pasta is one of life’s great, simple pleasures. Compared to store-bought pasta, fresh pasta has a rich, nutty flavor and a delicate texture that just can’t be beat. Plus, it gives the chef an amazing sense of satisfaction to watch her family and friends sit down to a meal she made completely by hand. Experimental Wifery walks you though how to use a food processor and a pasta machine to make sheets of homemade pasta and a spring ravioli recipe just in time for asparagus season.
Makes about four servings (about a pound)
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 3 eggs
- Water (up to about 5 teaspoons)
- Ask yourself, “Is homemade pasta worth it?” Homemade pasta is a lot of trouble. Too much trouble if you’re going to drown your fresh spaghetti noodles in a heavy marinara sauce. But for certain sauces (oil sauces and pestoes come to mind) and types of noodles (think lasagna noodles or cut pastas like ravioli or tortellini) are definitely worth the trouble.
- Using a food processor, pulse together 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the eggs and blend until the dough starts to come together into large clumps.
If the dough isn’t clumping, add water—1 teaspoon at the time. (I usually need 4-5 teaspoons to get the consistency right.) The dough should be moist enough to stick together as a large ball, but not damp or gluey. Keep in mind that it will be easier to add flour later to dough that errs on the moist side than to add water to dry dough. (You can also make pasta dough without a food processor, but be aware that you’ll probably make a pretty big mess.)
- Roll the dough into a ball. Cover it with a tea towel or damp paper towel. Let the ball rest for 30 minutes. This is a great time to prepare sauces or fillings for stuffed pastas.
- Break the ball in half.
- Press half of the dough into a flat piece the width of your pasta machine. (You can make pasta without a machine, although it requires a lot of elbow grease. That’s why a pasta machine is a great item for a budding chef’s wedding registry.) Lightly coat both sides in flour—any moist dough will stick to the machine and cause the pasta to break. On the pasta machine’s largest setting, pass the dough through the machine. If the dough crumbles, your dough is too dry. If the dough tears, coat it in flour again and pass it back through the pasta machine.
Once you have one long, smooth piece of dough without any rips or tears, fold that piece of dough into thirds—like a travel brochure. Coat it lightly in flour. Put it back through the pasta press, one of the open sides first. Repeat this process 7-8 more times.
- Reset the pasta press to the next widest setting. For some pasta presses, that will mean moving to a larger number. For others, a smaller. Without folding the sheet of pasta, lightly dust it with flour and pass it through the pasta press. Repeat, resetting the pasta press to a narrower setting each time.
- Stop when your pasta is the desired thickness. (Keep in mind that the pasta will be a little thicker once you’ve cooked it.) The thinner your pasta, the more delicate the taste, but the more likely it is to break while cooking. Ravioli works well on the second-narrowest setting on my pasta press.
- Repeat steps 5-8 with the second half of your dough.
- Voila! Sheets of fresh pasta ready to prepare with your favorite recipe or with our asparagus ravioli recipe.
- 3 cups of chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound of asparagus, trimmed and washed
- 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
- 1/4 cup of mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon
- Olive oil to garnish
- Bring the chicken stock and bay leaf to a boil.
- Remove the tips of the asparagus. Boil the stems under just tender, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove the asparagus from the broth. Remove the broth from the heat, but retain it to cook the pasta.
- Puree the asparagus stems, Parmesan and mascarpone cheeses, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.
- Along the right side of a prepared sheet of pasta, add rounded teaspoons of puree about every three inches.
Use water to lightly moisten the sheet of pasta around the puree. Fold the left side of the sheet of pasta over the right side. Press down around the sides of each mound. Gently press down on each mound to remove air bubbles before pressing the edges closed as well. (Air bubbles may break the ravioli in cooking.)
- Cut the dough between each mound of pasta to separate ravioli.
- Add the asparagus tips to the broth.
- Cook the prepared ravioli and asparagus tips in the broth with the asparagus until the ravioli float to the top, about 2-3 minutes. Gently remove the ravioli and asparagus with a slotted spoon onto plates.
- Pour a little of the broth over each portion. Top with Parmesan cheese, a little lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil. (Make sure you’ve plated the pasta beautifully.)
- Serve immediately.
If you have any leftover filling, it tastes great as a topping for bread.
Looking for more recipes for homemade food? How to Cook Everything is a great resource for grab-and-go chefs and foodies alike.