Making Fresh Pasta
I love to feed people, it's in my Cuban and Sicilian blood. If my friends come over, all I want to do is shove food in their face. Nothing makes me happier than satisfying the bellies of the people I love, and one of my favorite things to make is fresh pasta. In fact, when building my new house, I purposely designed a huge 8ft island for rolling out pasta dough. You can totally go the route of doing it by hand, but to save time I like using a food processor to make the dough, and then I'll use the Kitchen Aid pasta attachments to roll out the dough and cut it into shapes. I have wooden drying racks to hang my pasta after its cut, but before I had those, I would just hang them over the backs of chairs. Whatever works.
Pasta is my comfort food, my chicken soup. When I'm sick, or feeling down, I just want to eat pasta. Alfredo, red sauce, vodka sauce, lasagna, or even just drizzled with olive oil, I'll eat pasta in any shape, size, and texture. With the kitchen gadgets, it's really not even that time consuming to make and it always impresses guests when you tell them you made pasta from scratch. It also makes for an instant conversation starter.
Italians are super serious about their pasta, in fact I know a woman who "didn't trust" her son's girlfriend because she didn't eat pasta. She was allergic to gluten. Either way, she firmly believed that the non pasta eater was unsuitable for her boy. The recipe I'm sharing today uses all purpose flour, but a cup-for-cup gluten free flour would probably work just as well -- serve to a true Italian at your own risk. The amount of humidity in the air will affect your dough, so don't be scared to adjust the amount of oil or flour as needed.
1 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Large Eggs
Pinch of Sea Salt
You can find recipes all over for classic pasta dough. This is one I like from Food Network that uses the food processor. It also includes how to roll and cut the dough with the attachments.
In a food processor blend the flour, the eggs, the oil, and 1 1/2 tablespoons water until mixture just begins to form a ball, adding more water drop by drop if the dough is too dry. (The dough should be firm but not sticky.) Blend the dough for 15 seconds more to knead it. Let the dough stand, covered with an inverted bowl, at room temperature for 1 hour.
To roll pasta dough: Set the smooth rollers of a pasta machine at the lowest number. (The rollers will be wide apart.) Divide the dough into 8 pieces, flatten each piece into a rough rectangle, and cover the rectangles with an inverted bowl.
Working with 1 rectangle at a time, dust the rectangle with the flour and feed it through the rollers. Fold the rectangle in half and feed it through the rollers 8 or 9 more times to knead it, folding it in half each time and dusting it with flour if necessary to prevent it from sticking. Turn dial down one notch and feed the dough through the rollers without folding. Continue to feed the dough through the rollers without folding, turning the dial one notch lower each time, until the lowest notch is reached. The pasta dough should be a smooth and long sheet about 3 1/2 inches wide. Roll the remaining pieces of pasta dough in the same manner.
You can freeze your dough to store it for a later time, or use it immediately in a homemade sauce. I can't recommend using store bought, I'd get haunted by my Sicilian ancestors. I love a simple tomato sauce with tons of fresh basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. A little bit of this and a little bit of that is how I was taught to cook, adding herbs and seasonings to fit my personal preference. One trick I find particularly useful is to add a packet of sugar for each can of tomato sauce to cut the acidity. When I honeymooned in Italy and Sicily, I noticed that they did not use onions or garlic in their tomato sauce. The fresh, local tomatoes provided so much flavor, that such pungent ingredients would have been overpowering and the pure tomato flavor would have been lost. In my opinion, do what you like! Sometimes I'll make a sauce using only fresh tomatoes, other times only canned crushed tomatoes, and occasionally a mixture of canned and fresh tomatoes. Don't overthink it, just have fun and keep it simple.