While it may seem daunting at first, anyone can make their own pasta with a little practice. By using the right ingredients, equipment, and techniques, you can create a variety of pasta shapes and flavours that will impress your family and friends. Whether you prefer classic spaghetti or want to experiment with different shapes and sauces, homemade pasta is a delicious and satisfying addition to any meal. Here’s how to get started…
Choosing The Right Flour And Ingredients
Whatever you are cooking, the better the ingredients the better the results but that is especially the case with pasta. The ideal flour is either durum wheat or semolina – you can mix the two if you want – as they provide the gluten content that will give your pasta the perfect texture. For a classic pasta you need high-quality eggs and a pinch of salt, but you can add a little twist (and a colourful flavour profile) by incorporating ingredients such as spinach, beetroot or even squid ink if you are planning a fish sauce. To be honest there are any number of different flavours to experiment with.
Mixing And Kneading The Dough
Here is where the work comes in! Start by creating a mound of flour on a clean surface and form a well in the centre. Crack the eggs into the well and gradually incorporate the flour, mixing with a fork or your fingertips. Once it starts to come together, it’s time to knead using the heels of your hands, folding and pressing until it is smooth and elastic. You now need to rest the dough for 30 mins to allow the gluten to relax and the flavours to develop.
Rolling And Cutting The Pasta
Now you can start to shape your pasta, cutting and rolling to get the shapes you want. You will need to pass the dough through a pasta machine, each time reducing the width setting. You can also do this with a rolling pin but it may be more difficult to achieve an even finish. Then you take your pasta sheet and get creative, cutting squares for ravioli, circles for tortellini, or simply using a sharp knife to produce shapes such as fettuccine or tagliatelle. Dust the pasta with flour to stop it sticking.
In terms of ratio, the rule of thumb is 1 egg for every 100g of flour.
Cooking And Serving The Pasta
Fresh pasta is even faster to cook than dried. Just carefully add your pasta to a pan of salted boiling water for two to three minutes and you will produce perfect results. Drain the pasta but retain a small amount of the cooking water to add to your sauce – this can simply be a drizzle of olive oil with herbs and shaved parmesan or a more complex sauce. Whatever you choose will be delicious!
Storing And Freezing Homemade Pasta
Batch making pasta can be a great idea as it is easy to freeze. Once you have cut your shapes, lay your pasta out on a floured baking sheet for at least an hour to give it a chance to dry and then transfer it into an airtight container or freezer bag. It can last several months in the freezer and can be cooked from frozen by adding a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
Give making your own pasta a go – we’re sure you, your family and your guests will appreciate your efforts.
Keep reading for a recipe by Yannick Peltier, COLUMBIA signature’s Deputy Corporate Chef!
Homemade Gnocchi al Gorgonzola
For the Gnocchi
- 500g potatoes (clean but not skinned / preferably starchy potato)
- 130g flour
- 5 tsp salt
- 1 egg (room temperature)
For the sauce
- 100g Gorgonzola cheese
- 200g half and half
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ cup low sodium chicken stock
- 4 large garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup chopped onions
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach – use more if desired
- Salt and black pepper
- Chopped toasted walnut to serve
- In a large pot boil potatoes until tender, remove from the pot and let cool remove the skin. Then pass through a potato ricer.
- Mix together the flour and salt, place on a flat surface, make a well in the middle and add the potatoes and egg, mix together with your fingers to form a soft dough, it should not stick to your fingers. On a lightly floured surface, cut small amounts of dough to form ropes and cut into 2 cm pieces, then slide each piece on a fork and squeeze a little (but not too hard). Sprinkle with a little bit of flour and toss, so they don’t stick together. Let the gnocchi rest for 20 minutes before cooking.
- In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the gnocchi, gnocchi are ready when they float to the top. Drain and add to the cooked sauce, add a little pasta water, cook for 30 seconds, gently tossing.
- In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onions and saute until softened and fragrant, add the chopped garlic to the softened onions and continue to saute for another minute or two. Do keep an eye so that the garlic does not burn.
- Pour half and half and the chicken stock into the pan then season with black pepper, Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Reduce the heat and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on medium-high heat, add the gnocchi and boil for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside. You will know the gnocchi is cooked when it floats to the top of the water.
- Stir in cubed gorgonzola cheese to the simmering sauce, and mix until melted and combined. The creamy sauce should be slightly reduced at this point.
- Add the boiled gnocchi to the sauce and stir to combine, Stir in the fresh baby spinach and mix until wilted. Taste and adjust salt and black pepper to taste.
- Remove the pan from the heat and serve immediately with some chopped toasted walnut and freshly grated parmesan cheese.