Learning how to make homemade pasta is a skill you will enjoy using again and again.
I'm a good mom. I really am. Sometimes I screw up and yell or have a short-temper. I nag and I worry too much. Or I forget to show thanks and appreciation. But, I know that at I'm a good mom even with my mistakes.
One of the "good mom" achievements I'm most proud of is the instilling a love of real food, cooking, and eating into my children. From the time they were small they would peer over my shoulder while I made dinner or dessert. They would ask questions, "help" measure, and use their own sets of measuring cups and spoons. I would quiz them on what herbs work best with ham or turkey (Levi would say cinnamon - he loves cinnamon on everything!) and be sure they smelled or tasted as many raw ingredients as possible.
Now that they are older they no longer use special equipment, stools, or even cookbooks, but I find it oddly MORE difficult to keep them interested in cooking, ingredients, and understanding the value of real ingredients. There is an abundance of fun gadgets, recipes, clothing, toys, and tools for younger children but not nearly as much as they get older.
Yet, this is the age where they make more and more of their own choices for their diet. The pre-teen and teen ages are vital to developing healthy eating habits and a good relationship with food. This isn't the time to forget to keep your children actively engaged in their own food, what goes into their body, and learning nutritional values of ingredients.
Learning how to make some of the common ingredients we so readily buy is a fun, interesting activity. Especially if you can turn that ingredient into a full meal. Your children get to see from start to finish the entirety of what goes into their meal. All the way through.
Homemade pasta is one of those common ingredients that is easy and inexpensive to make, a great way to spend an afternoon, and a tasty building block for a full meal. Never mind the fact that using the [easyazon_link identifier="B01ENK4UV2" locale="US"]KitchenAid pasta maker[/easyazon_link] is just plain fun. Yeah, never mind that :).
Homemade pasta dough can absolutely be made in your mixer, for sure. But if you have never made the dough before, try it the old school way. Most kids and adults love the fact that simple flour formed into a volcano, with a couple eggs & olive oil added as "lava", all mixed together with a fork could possibly create their favorite noodles. It's like a giant, edible, noodly science experiment. A flour volcano of awesome!
Make your "well" deep or your eggs will overflow from the sides.
Don't give in to the temptation to step in and "help". As long as they are mixing the flour and the eggs and oil together it will be just fine. Let them be as independent as possible and own this process for themselves. In fact, why don't you make your own batch of dough (whole wheat perhaps?) and join in the experience for yourself.
If your dough is exceptionally stiff and not incorporating the flour, add just a tablespoon of water. Be careful thought... you can quickly add too much water!
A lot of mixing, pushing and pulling needs to happen. You want to knead and knead that dough HARD. For minutes and minutes!
You know your dough is done if your dough is stiff and hard yet springs back when you press it with your finger.
Follow the pasta roller & cutter directions (seriously, read those and you can't go wrong!). But the basic premise is that you put your flattened dough into the largest setting on the roller and roll it out many, many times. Then you move to the next lowest and do it again. And continue until you get a sheet at the desired thickness.
From there, you get to move to your noodle cutter. In our case, Levi's favorite pasta dish is chicken alfredo so we were out to make the very tastiest fettuccine to create the tastiest chicken alfredo know to man kind.
Be prepared to spend a LOT of time on this part. Not because it is time consuming, at all. Because it is really fun and your kids will adore it. They will see how long of noodles they can make. Or, how thin. They will want to try making giant nests or noodle shapes. In this case, playing with their food is perfectly okay. The pasta roller and cutter attachment is worth its weight in gold, let me tell you! Levi spent several hours on a Sunday afternoon making pasta and thoroughly enjoying himself.
Because this is a cutter, always use caution with children. Always!
Rather than trying to cut your noodles in one giant strip, cut your dough layers down to the size you want your fettuccine prior to running through the noodle cutter. It will be much easier to handle.
Most of the time you will be making your homemade pasta for eating right away. Trust me, you think you are going to save some but it won't happen. So, lay the noodles out on the table lightly floured awaiting the pot. If, however, you do want to save some for later you need to dry them out properly before storing. The raw egg yolk does nasty things when mixed with moisture so drying out the pasta helps it keep fresh and safe.
Use sanitized plastic coat hangers as drying racks if you don't have a proper pasta one. It works just fine.
Storing Homemade Pasta:
- creating small "nests" of floured pasta is one of the easiest, safest way to store pasta for cooking within a few days. Put the nests in the fridge until ready to cook.
- to freeze pasta: put a single layer of pasta on a cookie sheet and freeze for 30 minutes. Remove from the freezer and place into a rigid freezer safe container. Using a rigid container reduces breakage. Can be frozen for several weeks.
- to store in the cupboard: in order for this method to work you need to PROPERLY dry the pasta. Really well! If done so, store in glass jars in a cool and dry place for several days up to several weeks. Only use this method if you are certain proper drying has happened.
- my favorite: freezing pasta dough until ready to make fresh pasta. I simply wrap the dough in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil and put in the fridge for up to a month. I remove it from the freezer about an hour before I need it to give it time to thaw. Then roll, cut, and cook it up. Yum
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoon water
- Make a mound with the flour.
- Create a well in the center of the flour and crack the eggs into the center.
- Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water.
- With a fork, gently whisk the eggs with the oil and water, gently incorporating the flour into the liquid.
- Continue incorporating the flour into the liquid until a dough is formed.
- Gather the dough into a ball and continue incorporating the flour with your hands.
- Knead about 4 minutes.
- When dough is firm and yet still elastic gather it into a ball. Cover it with plastic wrap sprayed with a bit of cooking spray and let sit for 20 minutes.
- Continue by rolling your pasta and cutting. Or, freeze the dough for later.