Making pasta is an art and a tradition that has been passed on from one generation to another, especially in most Italian households. If you're a pasta lover, you'll know that fresh pasta always tastes better than the dried version. Making homemade pasta is not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, once you get a hang of it, you're going to forget all about the supermarket ones.
Did You Know?Spaghetti means little twines, farfalle means butterflies, and fettuccine means little ribbons! Moreover, the word 'pasta' comes from the Italian word for 'paste', which stands for a combination of flour and water!
The homemade version also proves to be cheaper, and thus, friendlier to the wallet! To make pasta, all you need is all-purpose flour, eggs, salt, and warm water. It also calls for a few skills, like kneading, rolling, and cutting. Pasta has been made for generations together; mostly by hand every step of the way. Fortunately, today we have all kinds of tools that can help you in this endeavor. With the right tools for making pasta, you're sure to become a pasta pro in no time!
Pasta machines are relatively inexpensive and very useful. They flatten and even cut the dough in the desired shape, size, and thickness. Stainless steel pasta makers are the best, because they're durable, easier to maintain, and also look good. While you can purchase the fancy electric ones, the conventional manual ones are also good enough. A pasta machine makes the preparation simpler; however, it's not an absolute necessity. You can roll out beautiful pasta with a rolling pin as well. Some fancy pasta machines have little discs that roll out all kinds of shapes, like spirals, hollow tubes, etc.
If you're just interested in trying your hand at making pasta, and don't really want to invest in a machine, then a rolling pin will do just fine for you. With a little practice, you will be doling out nice and thin pasta sheets in a span of 15 - 20 minutes. Rolling pins with thin diameters (without handles) are preferred, because they help roll out the dough evenly. However, if you have one with handles, don't buy another one. Most people prefer to roll out the dough on the kitchen counter due to the large surface area.
If you have a food processor, you can prepare your pasta dough in it. However, if you plan to knead the dough yourself, a pastry board will be a good platform for the same. You can place your flour mound on the pastry board, and then make a well in its center to pour the eggs. You can then knead the dough on the board itself. However, most people prefer kneading their dough on the kitchen counter itself. So, it's all about personal preference. If you have a large enough pastry board, it can be used to roll out the dough. However, the board should always be larger than the sheet of pasta that is rolled out. Thin marble slabs are good for rolling out pasta, because the dough barely sticks to its cold surface.
Now that your pasta has been rolled out, it's time to slice it into the desired shape. Most pasta machines come with cutting tools; however, if yours doesn't come with one, use a sharp knife to cut thin slices from the flattened dough. Moreover, knives are your cutting tools if you don't have a pasta machine. Use a chef's knife to cut strands of pasta for spaghetti. The best part about manual cutting is the control you have. You can cut them into twine-like spaghetti, ribbon-like fettuccine, square-shaped quadrucci, or even broader lasagna strips. If you're a beginner, try mastering these simple shapes before investing in various cutters.
Pasta cutters are cutters that create lovely, soft, and waved edges required for various pasta shapes. Their fluted edges make smooth curves and impressions on the pasta sheet, perfect for making bow- or butterfly-shaped farfalle. Dual-blade pasta cutters are also available in stores. Moreover, you can also find adjustable, multiple wheel pasta cutters that make pasta cutting even more convenient.
A ravioli cutter, as the name suggests, is used to cut ravioli-shaped pasta pieces from the dough sheet. If you're a ravioli fan, you definitely need to get a ravioli cutter or a ravioli stamp. Stamps can be square-shaped, heart-shaped, or circular. These stamps enable you to cut out the ravioli and seal it, all in a single step! These days, you also get ravioli rolling pins and even ravioli molding trays, which make the preparation even more convenient.
Pasta strips need to be hung out to dry, as soon as they come out of the pasta machine. As the pasta strips get rolled out, they need to be freed as quickly as possible, or else they will clump together. Once they're freed, you need to hang them onto a pasta rack to dry. Hanging noodles is the best way to dry them, because leaving them on a flat surface to dry won't allow air to circulate on all sides of the noodles and pasta. Racks with dowels to hang pasta are perfect for this. Various kinds of pasta drying racks are available in the stores today. The number of dowels may vary, so purchase according to your need.
Besides these essentials, you may also need a bench scraper to handle the dough and scrape off pasta dough remains from the kitchen countertop. The tools may vary slightly, according to the kind of pasta you're making. Making pasta at home takes practice, and with time, your skills will get better. So, keep practicing! Moreover, if you're cooking your pasta right away, remember that fresh pasta takes only about 3 to 5 minutes to cook. So, keep an eye!