Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fresh Pasta with Fresh Herbs!

I'm starting to feel like myself again - two food posts in a row, and they're not a month a part! :) I really haven't had much of an opportunity to cook good, solid meals over the past few weeks, and that makes me sad. I think my body can tell too. Thankfully, that all changed today. This weekend marks a rare occurrence of me being in Milwaukee, all by myself, with no plans whatsoever. I feel like I say it all the time, but I am just so damn busy all the freakin' time! I love having great people in my life and always having things to do, but it sure is nice to be able to recharge once in awhile! Anyway, onto the point of this entry: FRESH PASTA! I am and always have been a big fan of pasta. I am probably only alive today because of all the pasta I consumed during college. ;) Honestly, it kind of surprises me and makes me a little sad that I've never made pasta from scratch before. I never really knew what it entailed, and it certainly doesn't help that I'm perfectly content with boxed pasta, ha. That being said, in an effort to break out of my comfort zone a bit, I decided this weekend was going to be the weekend I gave it a whirl. There were a few moments when I wasn't sure I was doing it right (mostly when egg started flowing out of the flour all over my countertop, ha), but for the first time making it, I'm shocked at how well I did! In case you have any interest in making some too, I figured I'd share the process with you. If you've never done it before, give yourself some time. From the start of making the pasta to when I was sitting down eating my meal, it was probably about 2 hours. I don't think it's supposed to take that long, and it would also probably have gone faster if I had a pasta maker, but I didn't mind that it took that long. I'm just happy I started before I was hungry. ;) I've got the 'recipe' and a bunch of photos below, but feel free to let me know if you have any questions!
Sportin' my apron! (Don't mind my messy room behind me! Also, I'm wearing shorts, so I'm not naked:). I would recommend wearing an apron if making the pasta. It's kind of a messy process with the flour!
 Pasta ingredients.
 Mound the flour.
 Create a hollowed out well.
 Add the eggs, salt, and olive oil into the middle of the well. Once you mix this stuff, you start kneading the dough. I don't have pictures of that process simply because my hands were a complete mess!
 Here's the dough after kneading it for about 8-10 minutes or so! I was pretty excited at this point. :)
 Here's my floured countertop!
Here is my 'rectangle' of rolled out dough. This piece here was about 1/4 of my total dough. At first, I just took a knife and cut straight down and tried to remain consistent with the width of my noodles. Once I learned the rolling trick (see the pics below), I used that because it helped ensure a better consistency in the noodle size. To do the rolling trick, simply roll your rectangle of dough upwards and cut the roll into portions that match your desired width.
 Those little pinwheels are kinda cute, huh?! :)
 As I cut the pasta, I laid it out on a floured baking sheet just to keep it out of my way. You don't really have to do this, but I just wanted to make sure it didn't stick together and I didn't know where else to put it, ha.
Here's the pasta boiling!
Once it's cooked, drain the pasta!
 This is the blend of herbs I picked up from the grocery store. Worked pretty slick!
 I pulled many of the herbs off their stems and then chopped up the rest.
 Here are the 'sauce' ingredients (minus salt and pepper).
 Melt that butter. Mmmm!
 Throw the pasta in with the melted butter! You can tell here that it could have probably been cooked a bit more, but it was still definitely edible (and tasty)!
 Add in the herbs!
 Stir it all up and add all the delicious spices!
Plate it up and ENJOY! :)

INGREDIENTS (The pasta dough recipe says it's for 4-6 servings, but it seems to be a bit less than that to me):

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
(Many pasta dough recipes simply call for flour and eggs, but I liked this one because it added a little extra flavor to it with the salt and olive oil. You could easily omit those two things if you so choose.)

"Sauce" (I say 'sauce' because it isn't really a sauce; just a nice coating. This wasn't from an actual recipe. It was basically me just winging it.)
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • Fresh herbs (My original plan was to just use fresh basil and oregano, but I ended up purchasing a small container of pre-packaged herbs labeled "Pasta Blend" in the produce section of my local Pick 'n Save. The herbs consisted of basil, marjoram, oregano, and thyme. I diced them up so they would blend better in the pasta.)
  • Garlic salt
  • Onion powder
  • Salt 
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Truffle oil (I used truffle oil, but you could easily use something more common like olive oil.)
  • Grated cheese (for garnish)

  • For the pasta, mound the flour on a clean work surface. Hollow out the center, making a well in the middle of the flour with steep sides.
  • Break the eggs into the well. Add the salt and olive oil to the hollow center and mix together with a fork. Gradually start incorporating the flour by pulling in the flour from the sides of the well. As you incorporate more of the flour, the dough will start to take shape. (This is where I temporarily freaked out. I don't think my well was deep enough, so when I started stirring the eggs, the yolk got a mind of its own and started going all over the place. Rather than gradually incorporating flour, I basically had to throw my hands in and mix it all up at once to avoid egg yolk from dripping off my counter. Ahhh! It still worked;).
  • Continue working the dough with your hands until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add a little water; if it's too wet or sticky, add a little flour. Keep kneading until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. At this point, set the dough aside, cover it with plastic, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Just an FYI: You can store the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, but allow it to return to room temperature before rolling it out.
  • Now it's time to roll the dough out. This is where I winged it a bit. I have a rolling pin, so I cut the ball of dough into about 4 sections and rolled out a little bit at a time on my floured countertop. Once I had it pretty well rolled out, I took a knife and cut around the edges to make it a nice rectangle. I wanted it in a rectangle because I don't have a pasta maker and had to cut the pasta by hand. I was going for long strands like fettuccine, so this seemed like the best strategy. For awhile, I just literally cut piece by piece, but in the middle of it all, I was texting L and he gave me the idea to roll up the rectangle and just cut it into sections. Wow, what a timesaver! (There's a picture above to help clarify.)
  • I got the pasta all cut up and then boiled a pot of water. I threw in the pasta, cooked it, and drained it before I started the 'sauce.' I let it boil for probably around 8-10 minutes. I tasted a strand and it seemed like a good 'doneness,' but as I ate my actual dinner, I found myself wishing I had cooked the pasta a little bit longer. I'm not sure what the magic cooking time is, possibly like 10-12 minutes. Keep in mind, that would probably change based on the type and thickness of pasta you make.
  • Once I strained the pasta, I melted the 3 tbsp of butter in the pan and threw the pasta in with that. From there, I added in the herbs that I had diced up and stirred it around for a bit. I added garlic salt, onion powder, salt, and pepper at that point as well. I don't have exact amounts as this is mostly based on your taste preferences. I probably used 3-4 big shakes of the garlic salt and onion powder and then just added in some salt and pepper for good measure. Lastly, I added a few tablespoons of truffle oil to coat the pasta and topped it with red pepper flakes for some added spice. 

That's it! This was not an exact science. Just my own personal preference. You could add or omit whatever you think would make it perfect for you! Once I served it up on my plate, I added a little bit of grated Parmesan and Romano cheese for garnish. Yum! Let me know if you try it!!


Casey Smith said...

Nae. You're seriously killing it with the food posts lately! LOVE IT! I'm becoming VERY motivated to go get some groceries and DO this! The photos are really helping too! Those break it down easier for me. I get bored of words;) But you make it look TOTALLY doable! Keep it up!!!

Renee said...

Thank you, Casey!! I've been pretty proud of myself these days! It's just been awhile since I've had a chance to cook, so it's been fun to experiment. I TOTALLY agree that pictures help with food posts. Most of the recipes I've had success with come with similar photos. Visuals are awesome and make things seems so much easier. I'm glad I could inspire you!:)

Courtney Smith said...

and I wish our grocery store selection in this area didn't totally *suck*! I could use some fresher supplies... whine :( ;) and this looks relatively 'easy!'

Renee said...

Court - agreed. Having access to fresh ingredients goes a LONG way! Perhaps you could grow some in the garden!!:)

Jessie said...

This looks amazing and now I'm starving! I've always wanted to try homemade pasta and this looks doable

Renee said...

Definitely give it a shot!! It was a fun process and not hard at all. Let me know if you try it. I will definitely do it again! :)