This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was to make pasta without the use of any machinery! Making pasta is one of the items on my Eleven in ’11 list so I was thrilled when the challenge was announced since it gave me a much needed kick in the pants to keep working away at my goals.
Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess. Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine. She provided us with recipes for Späetzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!
I, of course, decided to do things my own way, and with the help of a couple of tutorials and advice from a chef friend, made a basic long noodle and dressed it with a creamy zucchini sauce which made use of a squash that needed to be used.
Making pasta completely by hand is both incredibly hard and really easy at the same time. It involves a lot of kneading and rolling and manpower and I’m not going to lie, my wrists and arms hurt like hell for 3 days but it was the best arms workout I’ve ever had and gave me an excuse to skip the gym.
The easy part is that pasta requires few ingredients which you already likely have in your kitchen and is infinitely customizable. You get to decide the shape, you can add herbs to the dough, you can fill it with whatever foods sound good at the moment and pick the sauce to top it all off with.
When adding homemade pasta to my Eleven in ’11 list, I never imagined that I would make it completely by hand. But the process was strangely relaxing, the end product delicious, and I’m really glad that for the first time making it, I did it the “real” way. Now that I’ve got the basics down, I’m ready to start experimenting with more “adventurous” recipes.
Handmade Pasta with Creamy Zucchini Sauce – pasta recipe adapted from the back of the bag of Bob’s Red Mill Semolina Flour, advice from a friend, and Annie’s Eats; sauce recipe barely adapted from Pink of Perfection
- 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 1/2 Cups Semolina Flour
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 Eggs + 2 Egg Yolks
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp. Water + more as needed (I ended up using about 5 Tbsp throughout the process)
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 4 Cloves Garlic, crushed
- 1 Large Zucchini, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Cream
- 4 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- 1/2 tsp. Red Peper Flakes
- 1/8 tsp. Nutmeg
Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Crack the eggs into the well. Using your hands, slowly work the eggs into the flour until a dry, scraggly dough forms. Add the olive oil and water (adding more 1 Tbsp. at a time if necessary) and knead until the dough becomes smooth and consistent, 10-20 minutes. Divide the dough into four balls and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Working one dough ball at a time and keeping the remaining balls covered, use a rolling pin and roll out the pasta on a lightly floured work surface into a flat disc. Lift pasta disc, flip over and roll again. Fold the pasta into thirds, flip over and flatten again. Repeat 4 or 5 times until pasta is smooth, malleable and at your desired thickness. You should have a long, thin sheet.
If making strands of pasta (think linguine or fettuccine), gently fold the pasta into thirds. Slice into strands using a pizza cutter or sharp knife (I used the edge of a cake lifter) and unfold.
To prepare, boil the noodles in salted water until al dente, about 3-5 minutes.
If not using the pasta right away, hang it to dry for 1 hour (I made a makeshift “noodle hanger” out of a roasting rack and hung it from the knobs on my cabinets). Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or the freezer up to 3 months
To make the sauce, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini and garlic and season with salt. Cook zucchini until the moisture has lessened and the pieces are soft, stirring when it begins to stick to the pan, about 10 minutes. Mash with a potato masher, stir in the cream, parmesan red pepper flakes and nutmeg, and allow to cook until the cream reduces slightly. Toss with the pasta and serve with additional parmesan, if desired.