These are some maitake mushroom ravioli that came out of the “Great Mushroom Harvest of 2015.” But I want to focus on the homemade pasta aspect. Though I love a perfectly al dente dry pasta, and you can’t quite get that bite from fresh noodles, there really is nothing like pasta from scratch. It’s easier than you might think (especially if you have a stand mixer and even more so if you have the pasta maker attachment).
Here is my laundry drying rack (covered in plastic wrap) keeping my pappardelle separated while it air dries a bit. This was pasta for 15 people! I did have the benefit of a stand mixer, and the recipe below is for that method. If you want to go for it by hand, Mario can walk you through that.
Basic egg pasta:
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, sifted (plus extra for rolling)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 2 Tablespoons water (I like to add a drizzle of olive oil as well, you can also add chopped herbs if you like)
Place all the ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer and combine using the paddle attachment, on speed 2 for about 1 minute. Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and knead on speed 2 for about 2 minutes. Most recipes will tell you to knead by hand for another 5 minutes or so, but I always skip that and rely on the rolling attachment to do the kneading for me. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. This part is actually pretty necessary, otherwise you will not be able to easily roll the dough out.
Divide the rested dough into 6-8 equal pieces and keep covered while you work with one piece at a time. Attach the pasta roller onto your stand mixer and set to the lowest/widest setting. Flatten dough ball into a square shape and begin running through the roller on speed 2 or 4. Fold the flattened dough in half or thirds between each roll to keep the piece manageable. You will notice the dough take on a very smooth and silky texture. Once it has this even texture, you can begin to really roll it out.
Dust with flour and run through the initial setting 2-3 times without folding. It will get a little longer each time. Stop the machine, move the setting up one (slightly thinner) and run the dough through at that setting 1-2 times. I usually stop around 4 or 5 for my pasta, but you can get very thin if you like. Most recipes will tell you what setting is best for what you are doing (thicker for fettuccine, thinner for angel hair).
You can cut the pasta by hand, as I did in the photo above, or use the pasta cutter attachment if you have one. To cut by hand, dust the pasta with more flour, fold up loosely and cut to the desired thickness. Shake the strands loose and dust with more flour to keep from sticking. I was cooking my pappardelle the next day, so I left it to dry out. You could also store, covered in the refrigerator, as I did with the ravioli.
This type of fresh pasta will only need a minute or two in boiling, salted water. Keep it on the al dente side, as it can turn to mush easily. I like to boil till almost done and then finish with the sauce or broth in another pan.