I will begin my blogging adventure with a personal favourite of mine, which also happens to be one of the main staples of Italian cuisine — homemade pasta (spaghetti)!
I learned this recipe from my Nonna (grandmother). I must warn you that Italian nonne do not use exact measurements when they cook and bake! They just know how much of each ingredient to add and what the product should look or feel like. They will add more or less depending on what the recipe (in this case, dough) requires. Therefore, some of these steps may seem vague — just remember, practice makes perfect!
Before I begin the recipe, I would like to make a few notes:
- You will need a pasta machine. I have the Marcato Atlas pasta machine and I love it. Imperia is also a good brand. There is a way to make homemade pasta without a machine (of course! Italians were making pasta long before machines were invented), but that is a method for another day.
- I highly recommend that you use farm-fresh eggs. It will make a world of a difference in the texture and colour of the pasta. Regular grocery store eggs will still work though, so don’t worry if you don’t have any.
- If you can find it at your local grocery store, use Italian 00 flour. I buy mine at Longo’s. I actually made this pasta with half Italian 00 flour and half white whole wheat flour. You can use any flour you like– you will just have to add more or less water.
NONNA’S HOMEMADE PASTA (SPAGHETTI)
Serves: 3 people (easily doubled, tripled, etc.)
- 3 eggs
- 2 1/4 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
- lukewarm water
- Make a well with the flour on your work surface. Crack the eggs in the middle of the well.
- Beat the eggs with a fork. Slowly mix in the flour around the edges with the beaten eggs.
- If the dough is too wet, add some more flour. If the dough is too dry, add some water. Make these decisions while you are mixing the flour and eggs together, as you notice the texture and consistency of the dough changing. This time, I added about 60 mL of water because my dough was too dry.
- Knead the dough with your hands until it obtains a smooth and even consistency. It should be not too wet and not too dry. Just right!
- The dough can be used right away, however it will be easier to cut if you put it in a plastic bag in the fridge overnight. I used this dough right away and had no problems with it.
- Roll the dough into a cylinder (about 2″ or 4 cm diameter) and cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel to prevent it from drying out.
- Cut a slice crosswise, about 0.5″ or 1 cm thick. Dust with a little flour and press to stretch it. Put it through the machine on the largest setting. Fold it in half and put it through again. Continue folding in half and putting the dough through the rollers.
- Decrease the thickness setting on the machine and put the dough through again. Continue decreasing the thickness and rolling the dough (at least twice for each thickness), until you are happy with it. I rolled my dough to a no. 7 thickness, although some prefer no. 5 or 6. Dust the dough with flour as often as needed. You do not want to put wet dough through your pasta machine!
- Once you are happy with the thickness, dust the sheet with flour on both sides, and set aside on a tray. Repeat steps #7 – 9 with the remaining dough.
- Once you have finished, it is time to start cutting the pasta! Switch the handle on your machine to the spaghetti rollers (or fettucine, etc.). Take a sheet of pasta, dust flour on both sides, and run it through the rollers to cut it. Make sure you catch the spaghetti on the other side of the machine and keep it stretched out so that it does not clump into a ball on the table.
- Lie your cut spaghetti flat on a baking sheet, or hang from a pasta rack. Repeat step #10 with each sheet of pasta.
(Look at the beautiful colour of the spaghetti, thanks to the farm-fresh eggs!)
- Leave the spaghetti out to dry. It can be cooked immediately, or stored (covered, after it has dried) for up to 1 day in a cold environment (such as a cantina or fridge). If you use it right away, it only needs to be boiled for about 2 minutes. Otherwise, boil until your desired tenderness.
Enjoy your fresh, homemade spaghetti! It goes wonderfully with a homemade tomato sauce. I will eat this over store-bought pasta any day. It is far superior and cannot even be compared!