There's something truly special about the process of making your pasta from scratch. The combination of simple ingredients, a bit of patience, and a dash of creativity can transform an ordinary meal into a memorable culinary experience. Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a delightful afternoon with Chef Crystal of Kanvas. She is a talented and passionate chef known for her expertise in fine cuisine.
Before diving into the pasta-making process, Chef Crystal emphasized the importance of cleanliness and organization. We meticulously cleaned and sanitized our prep area, ensuring that it was free from any clutter or unnecessary items.
As Chef Crystal shared her tips and suggestions for serving our freshly made spaghetti, my mind buzzed with the possibilities. From classic Bolognese to creamy Carbonara and succulent Chicken Spaghetti, the range of dishes we could create was endless. The versatility and quality of homemade pasta promise to elevate any recipe to new heights.
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The Difference between Spaghetti vs Spaghettini
Spaghetti is like that familiar friend we all know and love. It's long, thin, and oh-so-versatile. Spaghetti has a slightly thicker shape, making it perfect for heartier sauces. Think of those rich tomato-based or meaty sauces that cling to every nook and cranny of the pasta.
Now, let's meet spaghettini, the adorable cousin of spaghetti. Spaghettini is like a skinnier version of spaghetti, but don't let its size fool you! It may be thinner, but it's just as mighty when it comes to flavor. Its delicate shape is ideal for lighter sauces. We're talking about those seafood-based sauces, olive oil dressings, or even simple herb-infused sauces. The thinner spaghettini lets the sauce dance evenly across every strand.
Here's a neat trick: spaghettini cooks faster than spaghetti. Its slender figure means it gets that perfect al dente bite in a jiffy. So, if you're in a hurry or just can't wait to satisfy your pasta cravings, spaghettini is your go-to!
Let's begin with the flour, an essential ingredient in homemade pasta
When it comes to homemade pasta, the choice of flour is a topic of much debate. Here's a breakdown of three common options:
00 Flour: This flour is finely milled and exhibits a protein content similar to all-purpose flour. However, the gluten in 00 flour behaves differently, resulting in a silky dough and perfectly textured pasta after cooking. While it may require ordering online or finding a local Italian shop, this flour shines when used for long pasta varieties such as pappardelle, fettuccine, and tagliatelle.
All-Purpose Flour: The easiest to find and equally effective, all-purpose flour is a versatile choice that will get the job done without breaking the bank. It is a reliable option suitable for various pasta recipes, making it a solid go-to flour for homemade pasta.
Semolina Flour: With a coarser grind and higher protein content, semolina flour imparts more elasticity to pasta dough. This characteristic makes it ideal for pasta shapes that require a pasta maker, such as penne, bucatini, and rigatoni. The distinct texture and durability of semolina-based pasta elevate your dining experience.
Making the Homemade Pasta Dough
Creating homemade pasta dough is not only satisfying but also requires minimal equipment. Though specific tools can expedite the process, it is entirely possible to achieve beautiful pasta without them. Let's explore the steps:
Starting the Dough: Begin by placing the flour in a mound on a flat surface, creating a well in the center wide enough to hold the eggs. Whisk the eggs together within the well, gradually incorporating flour from the edges until a loose dough begins to form. Troubleshooting tips are provided to address any challenges that may arise during this process.
Kneading the Dough: Work the shaggy dough into a ball and knead it for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. This resting period allows the gluten to develop, resulting in a more tender pasta.
Making the Pasta Dough in a Standing Mixer: For those who prefer a faster and neater approach, using a standing mixer with a paddle attachment can streamline the process. Adjustments to the flour quantity ensure the wet and dry ratios remain consistent.
Rolling Out the Dough
After the dough has rested, it's time to shape the pasta. Whether using a pasta roller or opting for a manual approach, follow these steps:
Rolling Out the Dough by Hand: Divide the dough into manageable portions and work each piece into a flat, rectangular shape. Dust both sides with flour and begin rolling it into sheets with a rolling pin. Cut the pasta into desired shapes and repeat the process until all the dough is rolled and cut.
Using a Pasta Machine: Investing in a pasta rolling tool, such as a countertop pasta roller or a stand mixer attachment, can enhance efficiency. These tools allow for consistent thickness and texture in the pasta sheets.
Cooking Homemade Pasta
Cooking homemade pasta is a slightly different experience than using store-bought pasta. Here are some tips for perfectly cooked pasta:
Boiling the Water: Bring the water to a rolling boil and generously salt it.
Cooking Time: Depending on the thickness and type of pasta, cooking times can range from 90 seconds to 4 minutes. Most long pasta varieties are cooked al dente in about 2 minutes. Monitor the pasta as it floats to the top of the water, indicating its readiness.
Saving Starchy Pasta Water: Before draining the pasta, reserve some of the starchy pasta water. It can serve as a valuable thickening agent for your sauce.
Savoring Your Homemade Pasta
Now that you've mastered the art of homemade pasta, consider exploring a variety of sauces to pair with your tender and flavorful creation. Here are some tantalizing options:
- Spicy Arrabiata Sauce
- Brown Butter Sage Sauce
- Short Rib Bolognese
- Meyer Lemon Basil Pesto
- Marsala Cream Sauce
- Instant Pot Lamb Ragu
Congratulations on becoming a homemade pasta master! You've acquired the skills and knowledge to create delectable pasta dishes right in your own kitchen. If you find yourself with extra pasta, remember that it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
To learn more about Chef Crystal's services and unlock a treasure trove of culinary delights, please visit her website here.
Spaghettini Pasta Recipe
- 1 cup All-purpose flour
- 3⁄4 cup semolina flour
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1 large whole egg
- 1 1⁄2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp homo or 2% milk
- Clean and sanitize the surface of your prep or wooden bench table. Make sure the surface is completely dry and unnecessary items are away from the area you will be making your fresh pasta dough.
- Sift the all-purpose flour and semolina in a medium bowl. Place the flour mix on a clean surface and make a well (nest in the center of the flour) Make sure the well is wide enough to hold all the eggs without spilling.
- In the middle of the well add your eggs, olive oil, and milk. Using your finger or fork break the eggs up and gently bring the flour inward to incorporate with the eggs. Work the dough with your hands to bring all the ingredients together into a ball.
Chef’s Tip: Using a pastry scape, may help push the flour toward the eggs and create less of a mess.
- Knead the dough in a forward motion with the heel of your hands. Reforming the dough into a ball, repeat this movement approx. 10 mins. The dough should feel moist and non-sticky.
- Double wrap the pasta dough ball in saran or plastic wrap and let it rest at room temp for 1⁄2 hour.
- Clean the surface of your work area and then dust 1 cup of flour on a baking sheet and set aside. Unwrap the pasta and cut it into four pieces.
- Gently flatten each piece into an oval dish. For this recipe, we'll be using an Italian pasta maker (you can use a Kitchen Aid Mixer with a pasta roller attachment.
- Run the dough through the pasta roller three times on level 1, then two times on level 2, two times on level 3 and once on levels 4 and 5.
- Change the pasta attachment and run the thin pasta sheet through your spaghettini attachment. Make sure to sprinkle more flour on the top. Each sheet should be floured so that your spaghettini strings don’t stick to each other.
- Repeat with each remaining pasta dough piece. Cook the pasta in a small stock pot with salted boiling water for approx 2 mins.
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