Pasta-making calls for two basic ingredients: flour and eggs. Despite how easy it seems, there are a couple of details that, if not done properly, may turn your fabulous homemade pasta into tasteless, miss-shapen dough. It all starts with placing your flour in a mound on the work surface, making a small well in the middle of it and tipping the cracked eggs into the well.
You then need to draw the flour from the outside of the mound into the eggs with your fingers or a fork, slowly mixing as you go, until a dough forms. You can complete the mixing step with a food processor, but it’s always more fun to do it by hand (and more therapeutic, some people say!) If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour. If the dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water.
After the mixing is done, next comes the kneading, which is essential. Knead the dough by pressing on it with the heel of your hands, pushing it away from you. Fold the dough back over towards you and repeat the process. Turn the dough a little each time you knead it. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle it with a little flour as you knead. It’s always easier to work with moist dough as opposed to one that is too wet or too crumbly.
When the dough is ready, it should be completely smooth and elastic. When you have finished kneading, cover the dough with cling film and set aside for about 20 minutes. The longer you leave it to rest, the better. This step is very important in the pasta-making procedure. Giving the dough some time to rest will allow the gluten to develop, which is what gives pasta its smooth and elastic texture.
After the dough has rested, separate it into smaller balls. Pick one to start rolling and leave the others aside, still covered with cling film. You can do this with a pasta machine or by hand. If you choose to do it by hand, lightly flour the work surface and place one of the dough balls on the floured area. Cut the dough into smaller balls. This is a great trick to help roll out the pasta really thinly.
When using the rolling pin you’ll be rolling your pasta into a circular shape, rather than the long rectangular shapes you'll get from a machine, but this is fine and the finished results as just as good. If using a pasta machine to roll the dough, start with the slot of the machine on its widest setting. After the dough has passed through once, turn the slot down to the next smallest setting and roll again. Keep making the slot smaller each time and repeat the process five or six times, until the pasta is smooth.
Whether hand rolled or machine rolled, the pasta dough should be allowed to dry for approximately 15 minutes after it has been rolled out and before cutting it into strips or shapes. This will make the dough less sticky and easier to cut. Try not to let the dough dry too much, as it may start to crack while being cut.
Once you’ve cut the pasta, it will need to dry again. Pasta shapes should be placed on a lightly floured surface and left to dry for at least 15 minutes before cooking, to prevent them from sticking together. You can lay cut strips (used for spaghetti or linguine, for example) out on a floured counter or baking tray until dry, although they will dry faster if hung to allow for better air circulation.
After 15-30 minutes the pasta can be cooked, or can alternatively be kept for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Cooking times will vary according to the kind of pasta you’ve chosen to prepare. Once cooked, the simplest way you can serve your pasta is to toss in a little olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese or grated Cheddar cheese. Alternatively try a tomato and basil sauce.
For a delicious quick fix sauce, melt some Stork Margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in some chopped onions and chopped garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat, add some chives and some uncooked king prawns together with a Knorr Chicken Stock Pot and a squeeze of lemon.
Stir through until the stock has melted and the prawns are just cooked. Using tongs add some freshly cooked fettuccine pasta leaving some of the pasta water drip into the sauce. Shake the pan a few times to toss the pasta through the sauce and serve with some chopped herbs.
For a delicious, creamy addition to your homemade pasta, try our recipe for Pasta Parmigiano with Chicken and Italian Herbs.
Pasta Parmigiano with Chicken and Italian Herbs
First, lightly sauté onions and cook the chicken until golden and juicy. For a rich flavour boost add Knorr Chicken Stock Pot, cream, pepper and Robertsons Italian Herb Paste. To finish, sprinkle some Parmesan for a sharp, cheesy contrast of flavour. An indulgent, filling dish that will fantastically complement your homemade pasta.