There’s a misconception out there that I’m hoping I can help eliminate.
On Tuesday, while at an appointment, I was asked by a fellow food-lover (FFL) what I was making for Valentine’s Day. When I explained that Jeff had made meatballs and I was making fresh pasta to go with them, I found it interesting that my FFL raised their eyebrows in amazement and said, “oh, that takes too long – like a whole afternoon.”
First of all, if you’ve ever eaten fresh pasta you know that no matter how long it takes to make the pasta it is worth the wait; but second, if you’ve ever made fresh pasta you know it really doesn’t take that long at all!!!! If you haven’t made it, I’d urge you to give it a whirl. It’s really quite simple and actually takes less time than driving to the store for a box of sub-par pasta, fighting the crowds in said store, and driving home.
I went to mapquest.com and found that it takes 11 minutes to get from my house to Wegman’s. If I take 7 minutes in the store (which is a conservative estimate at our Wegman’s because it seems there are never enough cashier lines open), then round trip we’re talking 29 minutes for a trip to the store to buy pasta.
Why did I bother to look this up? Because I wanted to see how making a batch of fresh pasta compares to running to the store to buy one.
While I was making my pasta on Tuesday, I ran a stopwatch and photographed the process of making the dough. The results are below….drumroll please……
First, I got out the tools that I would need including the food processor and lid, kosher salt box, flour, eggs and measuring cups/spoon.
Then I measured the flour and salt into the food processor, broke four of the five eggs into a bowl and scrambled them with a fork, and added them to the food processor.
I checked the consistency of the pasta and realized I needed to add the yolk from the fifth egg. So I used my Yolk Out to separate the egg and I added the yolk to the mixture. I gave the dough a quick whirl in the food processor after adding the egg yolk and then the consistency was just right.
At this point I checked the stopwatch and here’s where I was….
That’s right….6 minutes, 5 seconds to make the dough.
Next step? Kneading.
I kneaded and kneaded until the dough was smooth and elastic and then wrapped the dough in plastic wrap to rest.
I checked the stopwatch again and….
During the resting period I went about my day doing things unrelated to the pasta. Typically I rest the dough for about 30 minutes; however I wanted to roll the pasta and put it into the water just before we ate. So I let the pasta rest in the refrigerator for several hours and pulled it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before I wanted to begin rolling it. I also put a large pot of water on the stove to boil so that it would be ready when I had cut the last of the pasta.
When I started rolling the dough I started the stopwatch again and kept it going throughout the process of cutting the dough into quarters, rolling each quarter through the pasta machine on levels 1 through 6 and hand cutting the rolled dough into pappardelle (wide noodles).
Just before dropping the noodles into the boiling (now salted) water, I took a screen shot of the stopwatch on my phone.
I dropped the noodles into the boiling water, waited for them to rise to the top and let them cook for 1 minute before removing them into a colander.
What did I learn? And what do I hope you learned? That while it does take slightly longer to make fresh pasta than it does to drive to the store and buy a box; the results of making your own are far superior to the results you’ll get from using boxed pasta and you’ll be proud you made it yourself when you hear your dinner companion ooh’ing and aah’ing over the meal.
Just a few notes: A few seconds were taken up by fumbling with my phone for pics. I didn’t include the resting time because I used it for other things like laundry, work, etc. And the 29 minutes for store-bought pasta doesn’t include the time to boil the water and cook it when you get home. So, technically it takes less time to make it than to buy it – unless you live really close to the grocery store!!!!
The following is a fool-proof recipe for basic pasta. If you want to get really creative (and add to your time) consider adding pureed spinach or other veggies/juice in place of some or all of the water/egg for beautifully colored and flavored pasta….but that’s a post for another day!!!
Basic Homemade Pasta
- 3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 – 5 large eggs (start with 4 eggs, beaten)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, whirl 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt to combine.
In a small bowl, crack four of the five eggs and beat with a fork.
With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the eggs into the flour/salt mixture through the feed tube.
Stop the food processor and test the consistency of the dough. It should be moist but not sticky. If it is too dry, add the YOLK ONLY from the remaining egg, whirl and test again – only add the egg white if necessary. If it is too wet, add 1/4 cup of the remaining flour, whirl and test again – only add the remaining flour if necessary.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 10 – 15 minutes.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into quarters, roll through pasta roller until it reaches the desired thickness and cut into the noodle shape of your choice.