There is a big difference in the taste, and particularly the texture, of fresh pasta compared to the dried version. Fresh pasta is not very difficult to make, but it does take some work. One you taste the difference of fresh pasta, you’ll not want to eat dry pasta again.
Ristorante Pappagallo head chef Steve Wagner and sous chef Marco Signori held an impromptu cooking class to show how to make delicious fresh pasta. The ingredients are very simple and their recipe called for some saffron just to add colour to the pasta.
11 ounces all-purpose flour
5 ounces semolina flour
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
3 tbsp hot water
1 tsp saffron threads
1. Steep the saffron in the warm water until it cools
2. Place the flour and semolina in a mound on a pasta board. Use a fork to make a well in the center.
3. Put the eggs in the well.
4. With a fork, first mix together the eggs without disturbing the sides of the flour well, then slowly add the steeped saffron water.
5. Begin to incorporate the flour from the inner rim of the well, always incorporating fresh flour from the lower part, pushing it under the dough that is forming to keep it from sticking to the board. Remove pieces of the dough attached to the fork.
6. Put the pieces of the dough together with your hands.
7. Scrape the board with a pastry scrapper, gathering together all the unincorporated flour as well as the pieces of dough coated with flour.
8. Place this flour with the pieces of dough in a sifter. Resting the sifter on the board and using one hand, “clean” the flour by moving the sifter back and forth. The globules of dough will remain in the sifter screen and will not filter through. Discard them because, being already coated with flour, they will not integrate into the wet dough and will cause lumps which make holes when the dough is stretched.
9. Start kneading the dough using the palm of the hand,
10. And folding the dough over with the other hand, absorbing the leftover flour from the board. Do not sprinkle the flour over the dough. Continue kneading, for about 5 minutes, absorbing the flour until the dough is no longer wet.
11. A ball of elastic and smooth dough should be the result of kneading the dough for this length of time. You can now do the additional kneading and stretching of the dough either by hand or with a pasta machine.
Stretching the dough with a pasta machine
- Divide the dough into one-cup portions
- With the palm of your hand, flatten the ball of dough so it can fit between the rollers (about ½ inch thick).
- Set the wheel for the rollers on the machine at the widest setting. Turning the handle, pass the dough through the rollers.
- With your hand, remove the layer of dough from underneath the pasta machine.
- Holding the layer of dough with your hands, gently flour one side of the dough by drawing it across the flour on the board.
- Fold the dough into thirds,
- Press down with your fingers, starting from one open side toward the opposite open side, so that the three layers will be melded together and no air will remain inside between the three layers of dough. Using the same wide setting of the rollers, insert the open end of the folded layer of dough through the rollers. Repeat the rolling and folding 8 to 10 times, until the dough is very smooth and elastic. It is now ready to be stretched. Move the rollers to a narrower setting, following the manufacturer’s instructions for the particular type of machine. Roll out a layer of pasta.
- Flour the layer of pasta on both sides by drawing it across the flour on the board.
- Pass the dough through the rollers once; do not fold any more. Move the wheel to the next notch, passing the dough through the rollers just once. After passing each time, sprinkle the layer of pasta with a little flour. Each successive notch will produce a thinner layer of pasta. Repeat this procedure until the layer reaches the thickness desired.
- Still letting the pasta hang over one hand, pull it out to its full length. It is now ready to be cut into 12-inch lengths.
- Then select the cutting measurement you require on the pasta machine i.e., spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, and feed each length of pasta through the cutter.
- Once the pasta is cut, sprinkle with semolina flour and place on a tray until you are finished with all the pasta.
This pasta will take only 3-5 minutes to cook in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Fresh pasta takes less time to cook than commercial pasta – don’t overcook!